Legend has it that the Supta Vajrasana was a beloved pose of ancient yogis who sought profound introspection and meditation. In the timeless pages of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Sanskrit name ‘Supta Vajrasana‘ was crafted. It translates to ‘Reclined Thunderbolt Pose’ (Supta – Reclined, Vajra – Thunderbolt, Asana – Pose).
Its name illustrates the power and eminence of a bolt of lightning or thunder, juxtaposed with the elegance and stillness of lying down. Like the moment that lightning hits the ground, it is quiet, beautiful, and restful for just a split second before you hear a crack of noise, quickly followed by silence.
However, a lot of yoga practices today (ourselves included) brand the pose as the “Fixed Firm Pose” for the locked-in nature of the pose that we create once fully transitioned.
It’s the sensation of anticipation met with intense pressure, ending in serenity. That’s the goal of the Fixed Firm pose, the 20th pose in the Bikram Yoga series. It’s a calming experience laced with instances of intense stretches that will both challenge you and ease you.
It’s the pose that bridges the past with the present, inviting us to explore its essence and journey back through the centuries. It reminds us that yoga is not merely a physical practice. It’s a doorway to centuries of wisdom and a connection to a lineage of seekers and practitioners too.
So, lay out your mat, take a deep breath, and join us as we walk through the Supta Vajrasana together.
Before diving into the Fixed Firm pose, here is what we will cover in this article:
First Steps: The Setting of Bikram Hot Yoga
Stepping into a Bikram yoga studio can be quite a unique experience, especially if you’re new to it. These studios are intentionally heated to a toasty 104°F (40°C) with humidity levels around 40%. That may seem dramatic, but it all contributes to the gainful benefits of the 26 poses that comprise Bikram yoga.
The studio layout is straightforward. Mirrors line the walls, allowing you to observe your form and progress as you move through the poses. The warm, dim lighting sets a calming mood, encouraging you to concentrate on your practice.
When you enter the studio, you’ll likely see others arranging their mats in neat rows, which is the standard setup. It’s a communal space where both newcomers and experienced practitioners come together to challenge themselves, build strength, and experience the benefits of Bikram yoga.
However, not all Bikram Yoga has to be done in a studio (even if it’s done best that way). You can still perform the steps in your own space, but it may be tricky to recreate the ideal hot environment afforded by a real Bikram Yoga studio.
How to do the Supta Vajrasana (Step-By-Step)
Practicing the Reclining Thunderbolt pose will be both challenging and immensely rewarding (especially for your back).
Here’s a step-by-step sequence to mastering this pose:
- Begin by kneeling on your mat with your knees and feet together.
- Slowly lower your hips down, ensuring your thighs are parallel to each other.
- Gently arch your back and place your palms on the soles of your feet, fingers pointing toward your toes.
- Gradually lean back, using your hands for support. Keep your gaze upwards, creating a gentle backbend.
- If possible, lower your elbows to the mat, maintaining the arch in your back.
- Breathe deeply and stay in this pose for 20-30 seconds, gradually increasing the duration with practice.
The key here, as always with any Bikram Yoga pose, is regulating your breathing and staying calm throughout every step of the pose.
Remember, the hot yoga environment of Bikram yoga intensifies the stretch and demands greater focus. Take it slow and listen to your body.
The Benefits of Supta Vajrasana
Supta Vajrasana offers a myriad of benefits that are worth the sweat. Here are some of the key advantages of practicing this pose in Bikram yoga:
This pose is particularly effective at stretching the thighs, knees, and ankles, promoting flexibility in these areas. It will make you feel more nimble on your lower half, also making performing other poses in the Bikram Yoga cycle easier to manage.
As mentioned before, the Fixed Firm position does wonders toward reinforcing your back and core muscles, aiding in better posture and spinal health. In today’s sedentary world, where many of us spend long hours sitting at desks, cultivating a strong back and core is a practical way to counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting and maintain a robust, pain-free back.
The pose also encourages deep breathing, calming the mind and reducing stress. Once you’re completely transitioned into the pose (and after the stretching sensation begins to subside), you will gradually earn a peaceful state of mind when holding the pose.
Try closing your eyes once fully transitioned to quiet your mind and concentrate on the way you feel during this stage of the cycle.
The pose can aid your digestive system by massaging the abdominal organs, making them more flexible and malleable. This will reduce the likelihood of cramping and bloatedness because of the effort you put into stretching those organs.
Regular practice helps in correcting poor posture habits. The Reclining Thunderbolt pose is helpful in resetting your torso to a degree. It can help unravel any twisted muscles and align your spine to the state it ought to be in.
And last but not least, it can alleviate discomfort in the lower back and knee joints. Just as much as it can strengthen those areas, the position can also reduce any prior pain that you might have been experiencing in those areas, making the pose not only a strengthening exercise but also a therapeutic one as well.
Modifications for Supta Vajrasana
Just like any pose in the Bikram Yoga cycle, the Supta Vajrasana can be modified to accommodate different levels of skill and acquaintance with the position.
Here are a few variations you can try out, especially if it’s your first time attempting the position:
- Use Props: If reaching the mat is challenging, use yoga blocks under your hands for support.
- Half Supta Vajrasana: For beginners, practice with one leg at a time and gradually progress to the full pose.
- Wall Support: Place your mat near a wall to support your back and balance.
- Bolster Comfort: If you find it difficult to rest your elbows on the floor, use a cushion or bolster for added comfort.
Last Thoughts on the Supta Vajrasana (Fixed Firm Pose)
As you delve into the world of Bikram yoga and explore the depths of Supta Vajrasana, remember that yoga is not just about physical postures; it’s a journey of self-discovery and self-care. The Fixed Firm Pose, with its serene elegance and host of benefits, embodies the essence of yoga – strength and flexibility in body and mind, all while maintaining a sense of calm and stillness.
As you breathe, bend, and stretch, you’ll find not only physical resilience but also a deep sense of tranquility, ultimately resulting in amplified strength and heightened mental fortitude.
In the series of Bikram yoga, Supta Vajrasana is your ally, guiding you on a path to improved flexibility, strength, and inner peace. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a beginner, this pose has something to offer. So, embrace the heat, stay committed, and experience the serene magic of Supta Vajrasan!
Q: What if I can’t relax and let go of tension in this challenging pose?
A: It’s very common to struggle with tension and find it hard to relax. Plenty of people go through this on their first few attempts. However, It is all part of the yoga journey. To ease into relaxation, focus on your breath and remind yourself that it’s okay to take your time. Embrace the gradual progress, and remember that yoga is about your personal growth. It’s not a sport, nor is it about competing with others in the studio. With patience and consistent practice, you’ll gradually release tension and find a deeper sense of calm within this challenging posture.
Q: Will I lose my focus and mindfulness due to the heat and intensity?
A: The heat and intensity in hot yoga can indeed be distracting at moments, but they can also be powerful tools for enhancing mindfulness. Rather than losing focus, use the heat as a catalyst for heightened awareness. Embrace the warmth as best you can, stay present in the moment, and connect with your breath. Mindfulness in this environment becomes a mental workout, ultimately deepening your practice and self-awareness.
Q: I worry that I might not see immediate progress or results.
A: It’s natural to want quick results, but yoga is a journey, not a destination. Progress may not always be immediately visible, but it’s happening within. The transformation begins with every practice, no matter how small. Focus on the process, not just the outcomes. Each session strengthens your body and mind, even if you can’t see it right away.