Crocodile Pose (Makarasana)

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Crocodile Pose,Makarasana , (muh-kuh-rah-SUH-nuh)

makara (crocodile) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Nakarasana

Pose Type: Supine, Restorative

Difficulty: Beginner

a man wearing black yoga trousers doing crocodile pose

Restore and recover in this relaxing supine yoga pose.

Crocodile Pose Fundamentals

Deepen your breath, relax your body and calm your mind in Crocodile Pose. 

The pose involves lying on your stomach, which will provide a tremendous release to your chest, shoulders, and lower back. These are the exact areas where we tend to do most work in dynamic yoga classes.

Crocodile Pose is a restorative asana, which will reinvigorate your nervous system, relieving stress and bringing a sense of calm. Just like a crocodile rests on the water surface without moving, observing its surroundings, we rest on the floor still, remaining in silence and witnessing the present moment. 

The ancient yogic text Gheranda Samhita also describes this pose, stating it increases bodily heat when we pair it with conscious diaphragmatic breathing. It is also a part of a sequence designed by a renowned yogi Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, called Padma Sadhana. This sequence involves 14 yoga postures and is focused on attaining peace. 

This asana is often used for recovery in between other yoga poses. Unlike Corpse Pose, Makarasana doesn’t allow the practitioner to fall asleep, since the head and neck are positioned upright. That’s why it can be held for long periods of time.

You might want to do that in moments when you want to slow your heart rate, reinvigorate your muscular system and calm your thoughts.

In some texts, “Makara” is not translated as a crocodile, but relates to a mythical creature ridden by several gods, including the sea-god Varuna

Energetically, the pose mainly stimulates the lower chakras, including Root, Sacral, and Solar Plexus. In this manner, it allows us to feel grounded, secure, stable, and confident.  

Crocodile Pose Benefits

  • Contracts the muscles of the sacrum, the bone which supports the spine and aids us to flex our hips. This doesn’t only have a physical benefit for our posture but also improves energy flow in the spine. 
  • Stimulates the internal organs in the stomach, particularly the spleen, liver, urinary bladder, pancreas, and intestines. In this manner, it may boost their functioning and help them release toxin buildup. 
  • Relaxes the muscular system, bringing a sense of calm and allowing both the circulatory and the respiratory systems a chance to relax.
  • As a restorative pose, Makarasana is often used to aid with anxiety, stress, and insomnia.  
  • Reduces tension and pain in the lower back.

How To Do Crocodile Pose: Step-By-Step

How To Get There:

1. If you’re doing Crocodile Pose as a transitional posture, you may start anywhere where you feel like it would suit you. Otherwise, begin sitting on your knees in Thunderbolt pose.

2. Place your hands in front of you and your legs back behind you, and lower your entire body to the ground, starting with your legs.

3. Instead of resting your arms at your sides, bring them to the front of the mat and grab opposite elbows below your head, so you can rest your forehead on your arms. You can also keep your head slightly above the arms if you want the pose to be more active. 

4. Hold for as long as comfortable, at least 5 deep breaths. Then push your palms into the floor and come back to Child’s Pose, then raise back to sitting on your knees.

an annotated image of a man wearing black yoga pants in crocodile pose

Tips And Tricks:

  • If stacking your arms is uncomfortable, you can also stack your palms and place your forehead on the top of your hands.
  • The position of the feet will change how this pose feels. You can keep them together to make the pose more active, or allow your heels to drop to the sides if you want to fully relax.
  • If you feel any pressure in the lower back, increase the distance between your feet.
  • Focus on deep breathing, try to feel your stomach pressing into the ground with each inhale. You can also practice breath retention, holding your breath for a couple of moments before your exhalation.

Crocodile Pose Variation:

Crocodile Pose Variation: Half Frog Pose

a man wearing black yoga trousers doing half frog pose

This variation combines Crocodile and Frog Pose. It is an asymmetric version of this asana, which increases the opening in the hips.

To perform this variation, lie on your stomach, with your hands and head in the same position as they are for Crocodile Pose.

Then bend one leg to the side, creating a roughly 45-degree angle between the calf and thigh. Keep the other leg extended behind you. Hold for as long as it feels good, but try to time the pose or count your breaths to ensure you’re practicing for the same amount of time on both sides. 

Crocodile Pose Variation: Crocodile Pose With Legs Lifted

This is another advanced variation, intended for those who want to stretch their lower back more. It will also activate your glutes and the back of the legs.

Begin in Crocodile pose, and when you’re ready, lift your feet slightly off the ground. This variation can be combined with both standard Crocodile Pose and the variation on the elbows.

Crocodile Pose Variation: Crocodile Pose On Elbows

a man wearing black yoga trousers doing crocodile pose on his elbows

This variation is more challenging and active than the classic Crocodile Pose. Don’t attempt it if you have injuries in the neck or the back. 

This variation is also not as restorative as the original pose, but is fantastic if you want to feel a deep stretch in the whole back body. It is also a good addition to a practice dedicated to improving your posture.

First, spend some time in classic Crocodile Pose. When you’re ready, raise your chest and place the elbows on the floor. Bend them so your forearms and hands lift towards the sky. Then, rest your chin on the palms. Keep pressing into your stomach and focusing on your breath. Hold the pose for around 3-6 breaths. 

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common misalignments

Straining the Neck. If you’re practicing with your head lifted or on your elbows, avoid looking up. Keep your gaze to the front to avoid straining the neck and moving the head back.  

Entering the Pose Too Fast. Although this is a restorative pose, you should still approach it slowly and carefully, when rotating the shoulder blades to the front. Additionally, if the pose causes too much tension in the shoulders, keep your arms beside you and rest your head by placing one cheek on the floor. 

Stomach Issues and Other Injuries

Avoid the pose if you have any stomach conditions or if you are pregnant, due to the pressure on the abdomen. Avoid advanced variations of the pose if you have any injuries in the neck and back.

If you have high blood pressure, only practice the pose if you are able to breathe smoothly and deeply, as shallow breaths may increase the pressure.

Related Poses

Reverse Corpse Pose

Corpse Pose

Sphinx Pose

Preparatory Poses:

Thunderbolt Pose

Cobra Pose

Upward Dog Pose

Counter Poses:

Child’s Pose

Rabbit Pose

Downward Dog Pose

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.

Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.

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Sara lives in Croatia, near the sea, with her dog. She enjoys exploring nature, and making art. She is currently developing a series of children’s/YA stories and comics in her native language, which she feels complements her work and allows her to live her dream life – having yoga, writing, art, and nature in her every day.

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