This asana simultaneously stretches the muscles on the side of the back and abdomen while contracting the muscles on the other side.
It tones the nerves of the spine, makes the back muscles supple, relieves lumbago and muscular spasms, and reduces the tendency of adjoining vertebrae to develop inflammatory problems and calcium deposits. It massages the abdominal organs, alleviating digestive ailments. It regulates the secretions of the adrenal gland, liver and pancreas, and is beneficial for the kidneys.
For beginners and those with stiff bodies or bulky thighs, instead of bending one leg and placing its foot by the side of the buttock, that leg can remain straight. Also, instead of one hand holding the ankle, wrap the arm around the thigh, hugging the knee to the chest.
The physical awareness is on keeping the spine straight, and on the movement of the abdomen in the final position. Spiritual awareness – on Ajna chakra.
(Asana – Pranayama – Mudra – Bandha, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, India)