Introduction to Cakravakasana Flow
In the Viniyoga tradition, Table-to-Child’s Pose or Ruddy Goose (Sanskrit name: Cakravakasana) is a go-to yoga pose for loosening up cranky lower backs, creating overall spinal flexibility, increasing circulation, and linking movement to breath awareness. It prepares the body for any type of yoga practice and the ability to adapt it to standing or seated in a chair makes it accessible for yogis at all levels.
Coordinating the movements of your spine with your breath makes Table-to-Child a perfect preparation for practicing yoga flow sequences and also for exploring the action of engaging your core in movement, in this case as you exhale.
To gain an understanding of how the spine naturally lengthens on inhalation, and to feel the spinal-stabilizing potential of your exhalation, try doing several repetitions and progressively slowing the movement down.
Unlike the somewhat similar Cat-Cow flow, the movement of Table-to-Child is not focused movement of the thoracic spine. Instead the intention is to stretch the low back (lumbar spine) on the exhalation and lengthening the cervical spine on the inhalation. While the thoracic spine may curve in response to moving the torso toward the heels, the thoracic curve should remain relatively neutral throughout this sequence.
Cakravakasana is a great preparation for any yoga practice. It’s also a good between posture “palate cleanser” to prevent accumulated stress in the body during a vigorous practice. Off-the-mat, as a standalone practice in the middle of the day or before bedtime, Table-to-Child is a great five-minute stress buster. It’s a great way to restore circulation and ease to the back. This is considered a go-to pose for yoga therapists working with clients who have back pain.
How to Practice Table to Child’s Pose Flow
- Begin in tabletop position. If this position causes discomfort, try placing a folded blanket under your knees and/or wrists. You can also use a wedge to lighten the load on your wrists. Your position should be comfortable, but aim to align your hip-knee-ankle and shoulder-elbow-wrist on each side. Make sure you do not hyper-extend your elbows.
- You’ll be moving back toward your heels on one exhalation and back up to tabletop on one inhalation.
- Take an easy breath in. As you exhale, draw your lower abdominal muscles in, gently round your lumbar spine downward, and start to move your hips toward your heels and your chest toward your thighs.
- About a third of the way down, allow your elbows to bend inward toward you, keeping your palms flat on the floor.
- Complete your exhalation by bringing the crown of your head toward the floor. You may enjoy taking a pause here, or even doing some gentle movement to loosen up your back body.
- On an inhalation, draw your chest forward and upward, keeping your collar bones wide. Allow your shoulder blades to draw slightly downward and toward your spine (do not displace your thoracic spine). Think of stretching your front body – lengthening the distance between your naval and your sternum.
- As you ascend on your inhalation, allow your arms to straighten until you return to your original position.
- Keeping your shoulder blades in place, continue to lift the chest and think of lengthening the front of your neck a bit.
- Pause to feel the effect, then repeat 4-5 times.