Updated: Nov 14, 2018
Makarasana is one of the relaxation Asana in Hatha Yoga.
In Sanskrit "Makar" means Crocodile and Asana means Posture Pattern. It is a very good pose for the relaxation of body and mind along with some other benefits.
The pose is called Makarasna because it resembles the figure of Makara or Crocodile. A crocodile when basking in the sun on the banks of a river appears quite relaxed and lethargic. But it is full of energy when returned to the river.
In Gheranda Samhita the asana is described as:
"Adhyasya sete hyundaram ca vaksho bhumau ca padaupravisaryamanu
sirasca dhrtva karadanda yugme dehagnikaram makarasanam"
Occupying the seat , a person should lie down in prone position with chest and abdomen touching the floor and the two legs stretched apart. The head is supported on the two arms. It is Makarasna and it enkindles the digestive fire.
In this Asana, the person lies down on the floor in prone position with chin resting on the floor with legs stretched together.
Next he spreads his legs & turns his feet outwards with the heels pointed towards each other which rotates the hip joints a little outwards and helps to place the lower abdomen on the floor.
Then he raises his chin and take the arms above the head and folds them at the elbows , the palms placed on the opposite shoulders in such a way that a double triangle is formed with elbows resting on the elbow and forearms inclining against the opposite arms. This arm position resembles the closed jaw of crocodile.
The forehead can then rest on the forearms and face dipped in the hollow in between so that the nose is free for breathing. This position raises the upper part of the chest which helps to rest the upper abdomen to rest on the floor. In the final position the entire abdomen is resting on the floor.
After adopting this position one relaxes every part of the body making the breathing calm and regular. If the breath is uneven and irregular one cannot relax in the pose so the attempt should be made to see that both the incoming and outgoing breaths has the same length. This should be achieved slowly with practice.
To release the Asana, bring the legs together. Return the arms to the sides of the body and the chin on the mat. Stay relaxed and breathe normally.
The final pose brings relaxation and can be compared to Shavasana. When a person lies in this position his heart rate reduces which brings the neuro-muscular relaxation. This leads to a decrease in the demand for blood and oxygen, giving the circulatory and respiratory systems a break. It is beneficial for all stress related ailments and relieves stress and fatigue.
When the abdominal wall rest on the floor , it gets a light massage every time one happens to breathe. The small intestine are also affected beneficially by the movement and this helps to improve the digestive process and is good for people who are prone to flatulence, weak digestion and intestinal spasms.
Ref: Yoga Mimansa, Gheranda Samhita