Backbends are Crucial for Healthy Spine

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Our expert, Navodita tells us about four asanas or poses that help in keeping the spine of our body healthy and strong. Half camel and stretches the shoulder and upper arm, and opens the chest. Half camel is also beneficial for the kidneys and stimulates the respiratory, digestive and endocrine systems. Similarly, Ek Hasta Vyaghrasana is yet another pose that can make your back suppler. or One Leg Bridge Pose relates to the spine and the lower back. It builds core and lower body strength, lengthens and strengthens the spine, energizes the body, and stimulates the endocrine and nervous systems. Yet another pose to energise the spine is the Anuvittasana or the Standing Backbend. She ends it with sutras from the Patanjali Yoga, in the weekly column, exclusively for  Truths.

We have been doing a few backbends which are crucial for a healthy spine. However, it is important to a basic warm-up before starting backbends. If you sit in front of a computer or a laptop all day, or have a long commute every day, backbends are your answer to a healthy spine. Today, we will look at some basic ones like Ardha Ushtrasana or half camel pose, Ardha Vyaghrasana and Ek Pada Setubandhasana. Half camel opens and stretches the shoulder and upper arm, and opens the chest. Half camel is also beneficial for the kidneys and stimulates the respiratory, digestive and endocrine systems. Similarly, Ek Hasta Vyaghrasana is yet another pose that can make your back suppler.

Ardha Ushtrasana or Half Camel Pose

As you stand on your knees, wide apart, place the palms of the hands on the sacrum with the fingers pointed down. Inhale and press the knees down reaching the crown of the head upto lengthen the spine. Exhale and press the hips forward squeezing the buttocks and thighs and supporting your weight with the arms as you bend backwards. Very carefully reach the right hand down to the right heel. If you cannot reach the heel, keep the hand on the sacrum. Inhale and reach the left hand up and back towards the back wall. If it feels safe drop the head back all the way. Breathe and hold the for twenty counts. In order to release, with both hands on the sacrum, slowly inhale up, letting the head and neck be the last to come vertical.

Half camel opens and stretches the shoulder and upper arm, and opens the chest. Half camel is also beneficial for the kidneys and stimulates the respiratory, digestive and endocrine systems.

Similarly, Ek Hasta Vyaghrasana is yet another pose that can make your back suppler.

Ek Hasta Vyaghrasana

Bend down and form a table on all fours with your back, hands and legs. From the table, exhale, reach the right foot up towards the ceiling with the knee bent and the spine gently arching. Staring at a point straight ahead, shift your weight into your right hand and carefully reach the left hand to hold onto the inside of the right ankle. With both arms straight, gently kick the right foot into the left arm to lift the leg higher. Breathe and hold for about twenty counts. In order to release, exhale the arm and leg back down to the table pose.

This asana is very good for the shoulder and the front of the thigh, strengthening the arms and working wonders for the kidneys. This posture increases and stimulates the endocrine system.

Ek Pada Setubandhasana has similar benefits for the back, so let’s see how to do it.

Ek Pada Setubandhasana or One Leg Bridge Pose

Lie down on your back with your head on the floor while neck and back are on the mat. Exhale and raise your lower back and legs off the floor so that your feet are placed on the floor with toes pointed down. Start by keeping your heels off the floor and slowly get your heels down. Breathe normally in the pose and interlock your fingers behind your back. Now exhale and raise one foot off the floor. Raise the foot in the air straight up without bending at the knees. Holding your hands at the back, breathe in the pose for about twenty seconds. After a strenuous Setubandhasana with one foot raised, lift the opposite leg and breathe normally.

An important benefit of the pose relates to the spine and the lower back. It builds core and lower body strength, lengthens and strengthens the spine, energizes the body, and stimulates the endocrine and nervous systems.

Yet another pose to energise the spine is the Anuvittasana or the Standing Backbend.

Anuvittasana or the Standing Backbend

This asana, too, is simple to do and can be done with ease and care. Stand straight in Tada Asana or the Mountain Pose. Keep your head straight, back straight, neck up and chin up. Place both your palms on your buttocks. Get your elbows close to each other. Spread your fingers on your buttocks. Press your hands hard against your back and look up and bend backwards. Keep your knee caps plugged, drawing your thighs inwards, pulling your upper body from the chest and sternum upwards. Further, release your hands and if you feel safe, touch your hands down to your calves and back of the knees. Feel the stretch on the shoulder and the legs.

This asana opens the body and strengthens the respiratory, endocrine and cardiovascular system in the body.

It’s time now to end the Yoga workout with some positive thought to mull over, excerpts from the Patanjali Yoga Sutra:

  • There are many obstacles to proper progress of a Yogic body. First one is the illness of the body and then illness of the mind – the inability to comprehend, to listen, to understand, to follow and to practice.
  • Second is the obstacle of doubt. There are three types of doubts-one is a doubt about oneself. You wonder if you are good enough. You feel that you cannot do something that is required to be done.
  • Then doubts arise about the techniques. You may feel that they may not do you any good or that you should try out some other technique. Next, doubts about the teacher arise. These three types of doubts can hamper progress. Your doubt is mostly about something that is good, rarely the negative.

So, try to get rid of doubt and you will achieve anything you set your mind and effort to.

©Navodita Pande

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Navodita Pande

Navodita Pande

Navodita Pande has been practicing yoga since she was 9 years old in Iyengar Yoga. In April 1995, she performed at the International Yoga Seminar. In January 2003, Navodita taught at Hare Rama Hare Krishna Mandir in New York. Navodita had a Yoga show on NDTV 24x7 and was also the official yoga trainer for Miss Delhi contestants in 2007. She currently teaches Yoga and Reiki to
people in Kanpur.
Navodita Pande
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