Yoga poses for spine: Know the asanas to perform and their health benefits

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New Delhi: The spine is literally the backbone of our bodies that help us with our gait, posture, mobility, and protects us from injuries. If you want to protect your spinal health, Yoga asanas can help you build spinal strength and add flexibility. Back pain is one of the world’s leading causes of disability and can affect people of all age groups. It is important that you consider spinal health a vital part of your fitness regimen. By maintaining a healthy weight, you can do a great deal to avoid straining those back muscles.

It is estimated that 10 per cent of the world’s population suffers from chronic lower back pain. Activities such as walking, swimming and yoga asanas are highly recommended to build strength for your back. To enhance strength and endurance, engage in regular low-impact aerobic activities to help the muscles of your back work better. You should also strengthen your core, gain flexibility in your hips to support your back. You can start protecting your back with the help of these simple yoga asanas that can be practised anywhere and at any time. Dedicate a few minutes each day towards your spinal health and avoid the stress that comes from back pain.

What affects your spinal health?

  • Extra body weight, obesity, unscientific sports activities and heavy backpacks.
  • Improper or excessive exercising, abrupt movements and lifting heavy objects.
  • Muscle or ligament strain.
  • Bulging or ruptured disks.
  • Irregularities in your skeletal framework.
  • Conditions of osteoporosis, arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Asanas to practice for better spine health

Samasthithi

Formation of the posture

  • Stand with your feet together
  • Stretch your arms out beside your body and allow them to hover without making contact
  • Gently close eyes
  • Relax the body

Word of advice – Try to balance your bodyweight equally on both feet without leaning onto one.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Formation of the posture

  • Lie down flat on your stomach with palms placed under your shoulders
  • Keep your feet together, with toes on the ground
  • Inhale completely (Purak), hold your breath (Kumbakh) and then lift your head, shoulders and torso up at a 30-degree angle
  • Ensure that your navel remains on the floor, your shoulders are broad and head slightly raised upwards
  • Pressure on your toes– This activates the Sun (Right) and Moon (Left) channels which are connected to your lower back
  • Hold the posture for 10 seconds
  • Slowly bring your torso down and then exhale breath (Rechak) – This breathing technique is therapeutic.

Sarpasana (Snake Pose)

Formation of the posture

  • Lie down flat on your stomach
  • Interlock your palms behind your back
  • Inhale completely (Purak), hold your breath (Kumbakh) and then lift up
  • Ensure that your feet remain on the ground
  • Hold the posture for 10 seconds, slowly bringing your legs down and then exhale breath (Rechak) – This breathing technique is therapeutic.

Twisted Cobra Pose (Triyaka Bhujangasana)

Formation of the posture

  • Lie down flat on your stomach with palms placed under your shoulders.
  • Keep your feet apart, at a distance of about 2ft with outer toes on the ground.
  • Inhale completely (Purak), hold your breath (Kumbakh) as you lift your head, turn to look over your right shoulder at your left heel.
  • Hold the posture for about 10 seconds, turn to the front and exhale as you bring your torso down.
  • Inhale completely (Purak), hold your breath (Kumbakh) as you lift your head, turn to look over your left shoulder at your right heel.
  • Hold the posture for about 10 seconds, turn to the front and exhale as you bring your torso down.

Himalaya Namaskar/ Himalaya Pranam

Himalaya Namaskar or Himalaya Pranam is an ancient yogic practice from the Himalayas that involves a combination of forward bending and back bending postures. This 11-step flow mobilizes the body and improves its flexibility. Himalaya Namaskar is a salutation that doubles up as an effective cardio workout. It is a test of the body’s dynamics and can work as a foundational practice before you begin your asanas.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned practitioner, you should include these simple asanas into your everyday fitness routine. If you suffer from back pain, avoid lifting heavy objects and making sharp or jerky movements. When you practise paying attention to your posture, this will automatically strengthen the spine too.

A word of advice to beginners is to hold the pose for shorter durations initially and increase the duration gradually. Feel free to use bricks, pillows, cushions to assist you in your asanas, and do not hesitate to stop immediately if you feel any pain or discomfort. Consult a physician or your physical therapist to tell you which exercises are right for you.

Grand Master Akshar is a guest contributor. Views expressed are personal.

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