How to Do Side-Reclining Leg Lift Pose in Yoga (Guide to Anantasana)

Although Side-Reclining Leg Lift Pose may appear to be relaxing as you rest on your side, it can actually be quite engaging and challenging. This pose is also commonly known as Vishnu’s Couch Pose since it closely relates to the famous image of the Hindu deity Vishnu reclining as he plays a crucial role in creating the world.

“This pose provides a deep stretch for the backs of the legs, but it can also provide a complete reset for the mind,” says Yoga Answered contributor Isabella Koepf. “I often like to practice this pose with my eyes closed to increase my inner awareness and improve interoception and proprioception.”

Side-Reclining Leg Lift Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Anantasana
Pose Type: Balancing Yoga Poses, Core Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Intermediate pose
Targets: Backs of the legs, abdomen, chest, arms, wrists, and neck
Benefits: Tones the abdomen, stretches the backs of the legs, opens the chest, stretches and strengthens the arms and wrists, supports the neck, opens the shoulders, tones the pelvic floor, and improves balance
Preparatory Poses: Reclining Big Toe Pose, Triangle Pose, Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose, Forward Fold Pose, Gate Pose, and Happy Baby Pose

How to Do Side-Reclining Leg Lift Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Begin by lying on your right side, resting your head on your right arm like a pillow. Form your body into one line as you press through your feet, activating your legs and abdomen.
  2. Slowly lift your head up and place your right hand against your head, supporting your neck in this position.
  3. Then bend your left knee towards your upper body and reach your left hand towards your left foot. You can either wrap your left hand around the outside of the left foot or use your middle and index finger around your left big toe.
  4. Make a firm grip on your left foot, and then with an inhalation, begin to extend your left leg up towards the ceiling. If you cannot fully straighten your leg, then you can either keep your knee partially bent, or you can use a strap around your left foot and bring the ends of the strap into your left hand to increase your range of motion.
  5. Try to point your left toes towards your head and either gaze up towards your raised foot or a few feet ahead of you.
  6. Hold the pose for a few breaths, and then when you are ready to exit the pose, gently release your hand from your foot and lower your left leg down to the ground.
  7. Then gently turn over on your back and repeat the pose on the opposite side.

Beginner’s Tip

If you feel imbalanced in this pose or like you may fall backward, try placing a bolster behind your spine to support your body and help you to balance. If you cannot reach your hand to your foot, use a strap around your foot to help connect your upper and lower body and avoid excess strain.

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