Nakra (= crocodile)
kriyas (= cleansing)
kriyas (= cleansing)
IntroductionThis illustration (left) shows some crocodile exercises. There is nothing better for a bad back. The instructions are the same for each variation (many are provided in this series). There are 200 variations and each one affects a different vertebra. The enormous value of Nakra-Kriyas (= for our purposes: crocodile cleansing movements) is that by moving the spine from bottom to top in opposite directions, at the same time that we hold our breath (to contain prana in the spine with intention), our entire spine gets an air massage and becomes more flexible. These systematic and progressive movements free the spine of stiffness and enhance elasticity of each vertebra all along the spine. This results in stronger back muscles, better posture and an inner sense of balance. Prana (= life force) can stream into the entire spine (the hollow bone), when blockages are released. People who have hernias, sciatica, and other back problems that can be very debilitating, experience less pain in a short time after practicing crocodiles. And because they are not difficult to do, even for a beginner, it's also easier to get people to do them without injuries. My Story is all about how Yoga came into my life because of serious damage to my spine from a fall, and it was the crocodile exercises that I did for at least 2 hours every day to heal. It worked like a miracle. I have helped hundreds and hundreds of people through the years who had back problems by teaching them how to do these movements with rhythmic breathing. After you have practiced these for a while, you might even come up with some of your own! It's all about having the feet, knees or legs rolling/moving in the opposite direction of the head. In other words, your waist moves to one side while your neck moves to the other. I'm repeating this in different ways to make sure you understand correctly. Back and forth you go, in this way. Crocodile exercises are sort of like self-chiropractic adjustments when done correctly. The vertebrae just seem to fall into place more naturally. Many variations, lying down, sitting and standing, are shown in the following pages.
These exercises were inspired from and imitate crocodiles as they lie in the sun. Crocodiles are well known for their strong and elastic spines. My teacher, Eugenia, always placed a lot of importance on training the spine to be strong, because, as she said, “the spine is the carrier of Prana (= life force), and it is the Prana that strengthens the muscles and the nerves. If the Prana does not flow easily, the muscles and nervous system suffer.” Animals have an instinctual way of healing themselves when something goes wrong. Those who have studied animals know that they put themselves into positions that they hold, or that they eat or drink something—without anyone showing them how or why to do it! This is why so many Yoga postures have been given an animal name. If you think about the animal, for instance in this case, a crocodile, you can guess what part of the body the posture will help and why—crocodiles for flexibility. The Cobra is about the spine rising—for strength and agility. The locust (aka grasshopper) has the legs lifted up behind the spine—to bring the blood flow and prana into the back and kidneys. The Lion's Pose has the spine erect and the mouth wide open for a loud roar—to release 5th Chakra tension in the throat (among other things). The list goes on and on.
The Fish Relaxation FirstBefore going into the detailed instructions for the Crocodiles, it is important for you to understand the Fish Relaxation so that you remember to do this each time you finish one crocodile variation.
- Lie on your back with your eyes closed and concentrate on your solar plexus. The results will be better if you feel that you are inhaling through your navel. Any tension and relaxation always occurs from the navel (3rd, Manipura Chakra). This is very important if one wants to achieve ultimate results.
- Inhale deeply while focusing on your navel as you lift both knees (never more than 90 degrees), your toes (heels stay on the floor), both forearms (upper arms stay on the floor), and your hands in fists (as Eugenia shows in the above image).
- Get the feeling that you are collecting all of the tension in your navel. If you look closely, you can see how Eugenia is tensing her entire body in the above image, but you can almost see the tension emanating from her navel. She is centered there with her attention.
- Keep your head straight at this point. Feel the tension in your entire body.
- Visualizations that might help to affirm:
|“With inhalation, all sensations enter from all directions into my navel.”|
|“I collect all of the sun's rays in my navel with inhalation.”|
|“I am a puppet being pulled by strings, and my arms and legs move the moment the strings are pulled.”|
|“I inhale energy into my spine and exhale all toxins from my body.”|
- After you have tensed your entire body (as detailed above) with the focus on your navel, exhale and relax into this position (shown here by Eugenia).
- Imagine that there is a string in your back opposite your navel. When the string is pulled, your body just collapses down on the floor, lifeless, without control, without tension. Your head also falls lightly to the side, completely relaxed in your neck. This should be done between every Crocodile exercise you do in this series. If the Crocodile series entails two sides to move to, do two of these. If there is only one (when the knees are together), do one relaxation.