The name of this asana is composed from the following Sanskrit roots: Nikunja means tree, bush, thicket. Thus, Nikunjasana means "the thicket asana” and is one of the most effective yogic techniques for improving one’s immune system.
WHO CAN PERFORM THE ASANA?
Anyone can attempt to perform this asana, there are no adverse effects from performing it. It can also be practiced by pregnant women during pregnancy, except for the last few weeks.
HOW TO PERFORM THE ASANA
Kneel on the floor, "on all fours", with your torso parallel with the floor and your weight supported on your hands. The arms are stretched, the knees slightly spread and the soles of the feet are touching each other. The hips are perpendicular to the floor and will remain so, if possible, during the performance of this asana.
In this position, breathe in deeply through the nose, while you lift the body up, and compress the area of the kidneys as much as you can. Breathe out through the nose, bend over the head, and relax the lumbar area.
It is important to relax the spine muscles, especially the dorsal area between the shoulder blades and also the shoulders muscles because they will be worked out a lot in this asana.
THE FIRST STAGE
Bend both arms simultaneously and place your chin on the floor, as far forward as possible, but ensure you keep your thighs perpendicular to the floor.
Stretch your arms forward, and look straight ahead. Stretch the spine muscles as much as you can. Breathe deeply, several times
THE FINAL POSE
If you breathe deep enough and relax the back muscles enough, you will be able to adjust the final position correctly.
Turn your head and place your right cheek on the floor. Thus, the upper part of the torso can touch the floor and this will add pressure to this area, in which the thymus is also located.
Breathe deeply and calmly for 5-10 times, then place the chin on the floor before placing the left cheek on the floor and breathing again deeply and calmly for 5-10 times.
ERRORS TO AVOID
One mistake is not ensuring the thorax is pressed properly on the floor and this greatly reduces the effectiveness of the asana.
Another mistake is not keeping the thighs perpendicular to the floor during this asana, however the beneficialial effects of this asana are not dramatically decreased if this perpendicular axis is a little bent.
You must also avoid stretching your arms too much in front of you, because the pressure on the upper thorax will be considerably reduced.
Nikunjasana stretches the entire muscle system of the upper part of the spine. It also relaxes the neck muscles. However, its main benefit is on the upper part of the spine, resolving problems caused by incorrect sitting habits and incorrect posture.
Many people, especially those who have the tendency to stay “hunchbacked” will find Nikunjasana quite difficult, but they need to persevere in this asana, as it truly represents the best means to eliminate this problem.
Sedentary persons and especially those sitting long hours at a desk will benefit greatly because of this asana at the end of a working day.
In fact, we recommend that you practice this asana even during the day, after several hours of work, to prevent the unwanted and painful contractions of the musculature of the spine.
THE ACTION ON THE THYMUS
The thymus is one of the most mysterious endocrine glands. Until recently, it was thought that the thymus played no part in the organism of an adult.
It was also believed that this gland, highly important for the development of the feotus and which in the beginning is very developed, is gradually atrophied during puberty and it almost disappears in the adult body.
Nonetheless, recent research revealed that the thymus is a central organ of the lymphatic system, we realize its importance when we understand that the body’s immune system depends on the lymphatic system.
Nowadays it is considered that the thymus has an essential role in defending the body against microbial and viral attacks. The thymus is a great reservoir of lymphocytes and it transmits fighting instructions to the cells.
From this perspective, the importance of the stimulation and harmonization of the activity of this gland is very apparent. Modern science knows very little about this gland.
Nonetheless, the yogis know the secret connection between the thymus and the affective perceptions. People whose thymus is not atrophied remain candid, good, and creative.
The thymus is generally difficult to stimulate, due to its position behind the sternum. Nikunjasana can achieve this stimulation in an effective manner, because it stretches the thorax and compresses the area corresponding to the thymus, especially if we are careful to breathe deeply during the final pose of Nikunjasana.
Nikunjasana contributes to the creation and preservation of a very good immune system. Another pose that has this effect is Sarvangasana, the Candle Pose. The effects of these two asanas are wonderfully complementary.