Tiger Pose (Vyaghrasana) exercises the entire spine from top to bottom. It is a great way to awaken the body in the morning. It also a beneficial pose after a long day of sitting at a desk or after a long commute. It flexes and loosens the spine by bending it backwards and forwards, toning the spinal nerves. The sciatic nerves are relaxed. Leg and hip joints are loosened and bones are strengthened.
Tiger Pose simulates the stretch a tiger makes when it wakes up. It is a super delicious spinal lengthener and backbend. Use this posture to stretch out your entire front body, from your ankles all the way through your thighs, abdomen, chest, and up to your throat.
Benefits of Tiger Pose
The back bend in Tiger Pose helps to ignite the adrenals and nourish the kidneys for those of us with stressful daily lives. This stretch can become a wonderful chest opener when using the bound variations. Opening your chest is great for asthmatics, and also for allergy sufferers. In Chinese medicine, it helps to relieve anxiety, depression, and grief, too.
Tiger Pose should be avoided if you have a chronic back condition, but it is strengthening for healthy lumbar muscles, so can help prevent back injuries when taken slowly, one step at a time.
How to Do Tiger Pose (Vyaghrasana)
- Begin on your hands and knees in Table Pose (Goasana). Knees are shoulder width apart and parallel below the hips. Place hands flat on the mat, wrists and elbow under the shoulders. The tops of your feet should be flat on the floor. Gaze down towards the floor. Engage your core muscles for stability.
- Inhale. As you exhale, bring the right knee towards your forehead. The back is rounded and core muscles contract to keep the leg lifted. Retain the breath.
- Inhale, extend and raise the right leg back, bend the knee. Lengthen and arch the spine. Keep the hips level and try to bring toes as close to the head as possible. At the same time, look forward and slightly upward. Again, retain the breath with the lungs full.
- Alternate between these two positions following the rhythm of your breath. Inhaling with extension, exhaling with contraction.
- Once you have completed the desired number of rounds with the right leg, return to all fours. Take a small break in extended Child’s Pose (Balasana).
- Return to ‘all fours’ and repeat on the other side.
It is important to keep the hips level in this pose rather than raising one up and out while extending the leg. This causes the body to twist and come out of alignment. It may help to use a mirror or partner until you get the feel of proper positioning.
Tiger Pose for Beginners
This is a kneeling posture, so you may decide you want a blanket under your knees for padding.
- If your wrists are tender for any reason, you could use your fists instead of flat palming. Using your fists in Tiger is actually more challenging for your balance — which means more core work! It is also a great way to strengthen your wrists and resolve tenderness.
Tiger Pose for Advanced
Advance: do your best to get the knee up higher while maintaining straight elbows and tilting your head downwards to connect with your knee.
- Try to One Handed Tiger Pose (Goasana).
Roar Like Tiger
By emulating the ferocity and cunning of the tiger you are already in a challenging pose before your mind can reject it. Just like life, accept the challenge and adjust accordingly. This asana exercises and loosens the back by bending it alternatively in both directions and tones the spinal nerves.