Sit on your hip bones with your feet stretched out forward. Fold your right leg so that your right hip bone rests on the inner part of your right foot. Likewise with the left leg. Sway a bit forward and back, and right and left, to find your equilibrium point where your back is straight and vertical. Relax your neck, shoulders, arms and back, and hold the pose while breathing normally.
Most Yogasanas are best done on an empty stomach. However, Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) is one of the few exceptional asanas that can be done immediately after lunch or dinner. In fact, it is very effective, if done after a meal, as it helps in proper digestion.
Steps To Perform Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)
- Find a Yoga mat or a couple of blankets to sit on. You will need something which is soft on top (the part which touches your feet) but firm on the bottom (the part which touches the floor).
- Sit on your hip bones with your feet stretched out forward. Resist the urge to hold your breath – breathe normally.
- Fold your right leg so that your right hip bone rests on the inner part of your right foot. The outer side will be touching the mat.
- Fold your left leg so that your left hip bone rests on the inner part of your left foot. The outer side will be touching the mat.
- Sway a bit forward and back, and right and left, to find your equilibrium point where your back is straight and perpendicular to the floor
- Relax your neck, shoulders, arms and back, sit straight without straining and breathe normally.
Feel the stretch along your ankles, calves and inner part of your knees. Also, pull your anal sphincter muscles in (Ashwini Mudra). Feel your abdominal muscles contracting and your stomach getting pushed up.
Supta Vajrasana – The Final Stretch
Once you are comfortable with Vajrasana in sitting mode, you can attempt the supine version – Supta Vajrasana. Gradually push your upper body backwards till you are lying supine on the floor. Your lower body position remains the same. Feel the additional stretch along your upper thighs, inner portion of your knees, calves and ankles.
Exiting The Pose
- Place your hands on the floor adjacent to your feet.
- Slowly lift your upper body using your arms for support.
- Unfold your left leg and straighten it.
- Unfold your right leg and straighten it.
- Flex your ankles – Move your feet forward and back and rotate them clockwise and anti-clockwise to get the blood circulation flowing.
Tips To Check if You Are Doing It Right
The Vajrasana, at first glance, looks quite simple. But for those of us (most of us) who are not used to folding our legs, it can be quite tough to get it right immediately. Your ankles, calves and knees are not ready for the weight of your body – they will creak and groan.
Its perfectly OK if you need time to get it right – a few days for some, a few weeks for others. This asana is one of the core asanas – the base of all other asanas. So, keep at it. It will get easier every day. Remember – there will be a day when you will be sitting, at ease and relaxed, in Vajrasana Pose, wondering why it felt so tough those first few days.
- Before trying to fold both legs, get the posture right with one leg folded. Use a pillow to rest your other hip bone.
- Once you are able to manage the one-leg-folded position with ease (your ankles and knees don’t complain), try to fold both legs without putting any weight on the feet. Place your hands on the floor on either side of your hips and support your weight with your hands. Gradually, increase the amount of weight you put on your feet.
- Start with your knees slightly apart. As you get more comfortable, get the knees closer together.
- Sometimes, you may end up sitting in a way such that your weight falls on the bones on the top of your foot (the top of your foot will be touching the mat rather than the outer side of your foot). This can be painful for some. If so, you need to spend some more time perfecting the one-leg-folded position.
- Check if you are involuntarily pulling your shoulders up, straining your back, leaning forward or holding your breath – these are signs that your body is still wary of pain. You need to consciously convince your body to relax.
- Always, ensure that your back is straight and you are breathing normally right through.
Feeling too much pain in your ankles or knees?
You might have an injury that you haven’t noticed otherwise. If so, it would be best to strengthen your ankles and knees first. As with any Yogasana, let your body guide you. You should only stretch as much as your body allows you to, without holding your breath.
- A little bit of pain that subsides as you hold the pose – is fine.
- If the pain is too much (and a tell-tale sign is that the pain stays constant or even increases – the longer you stay in the pose), you need to stop.
A Simpler Intermediate Method
- Assume a kneeling posture, with knees touching each other.
- Keep the body erect by placing weight on the toes.
- Sit back on the heels, breathing normally.
- Rest your hip bones on your ankles.
- Let your body weight push your ankles outward, with your feet forming a V-shape.
- Hold the neck and body straight. Place your hands upon respective knees, palms facing down.
- Relax the shoulders, ensuring that the spine is erect.
- Look straight ahead and keep your eyes closed.
- Remain in the pose for as long as comfortable.
The Benefits of Vajrasana
- Corrects your posture and balance
- Stretches and strengthens your back, hip, groin, thighs, knees, calves and ankles
- Relieves leg pain caused by incorrect posture and insufficient stretching of leg muscles
- Pushes back on the intestine and stomach and corrects the position of all the internal organs
- Cures constipation, acidity and all digestive problems
- Relieves flatulence
- Increases blood circulation
- Helps improve concentration
Vajrasana may be harmful for a person who is suffering from severe arthritis, varicose veins or injured knee/ankles. So, seek professional advice before practicing this asana.