Navodita, our Yoga expert, tells us that backbends are the countermovement of our bad postures in everyday life. She tells us about three asanas and Pranayam to bring holistic health in our lives. Find out more in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
It’s that time of the week when you need to get down to exercising your muscles and nerves. Backbends are favourites of many practitioners, especially as working at the computer may have some bad effects on posture, backbends are basically the ultimate countermovement to what many of us do on a daily basis. Three more backbends, which we will be looking at today are Dandayamana Yoga Mudrasana, Vyaghrasana and Urdhva Mukhasvanasana.
Dandayamana Yoga Mudrasana or Standing Yoga Seal
Here start by standing straight in Tada Asana or the Mountain Pose. Take your feet about three-four feet apart from each other. Inhale the arms behind you and interlock the fingers together. Draw the shoulder blades towards each other. Lift the chest and gaze up towards the ceiling. Exhale and hinge at the hips coming forward with the chest, reaching the arms up and forward. Let the head hang relaxed from the neck. Keep the arms and legs straight. If you feel the weight back in the heels, try and shift the weight forward slightly. Breathe and hold for four-eight breaths. In order to release keep the shoulder blades squeezed together as you inhale back up, taking a deep breath into the belly and chest.
A benefit of the pose is that it improves mental functions, harmonises the connection between the heart and mind, opens the shoulders, and stretches the upper back and legs.
Vyaghrasana or Tiger Pose
Here you can start by getting down on your hands and knees. Inhale the right knee to the forehead, rounding the spine. Exhale, reach the right foot up towards the ceiling, arching the spine and looking up at the ceiling. Inhale the forehead to the knee and exhale the foot up 4-8 times. Exhale with a ‘haa’ sound out from your mouth. In order to release, exhale the knee back down to the floor into Table Pose on all fours. Repeat this on the other side with the other leg.
Tiger pose warms and stretches the back muscles and spine. It strengthens the core body and stimulates the nervous system, lymphatic and reproductive systems, too.
Urdhva Mukhasvanasana or Upward Facing Dog
Lie down on your stomach and exhale and raise your head and upper body off the floor. Press your palms down into the floor, drop the shoulders down and back, press the chest forward and reach the crown of the head up towards the ceiling. Inhale and lift thighs and legs off the floor by pressing the tops of the feet down and engaging Mula Bandha. Breathe and hold for 1-3 breaths. In order to release bend the knees and lift the hips into the table position on all fours.
Upward Facing Dog opens the chest and strengthens the whole body. It aligns the spine and invigorates the kidneys and nervous system.
It can also be done by placing blocks under the palms for support, by tucking the toes under to lift the legs higher off the floor or even by facing the wall and pushing your chin and back against the wall to lift up.
Relax now in Savasana, do some light cycles of breathing or intense Nadi Shodhana Pranayama. End the yoga workout with some good positive thoughts from the Patanjali Yoga Sutra:
- ‘Jyotishmati pragya, Jyotishmati pragya’ goes a saying. This says – consider your mind as a light, as a flame. Your consciousness is a flame. Your mind is a flame. You may forget this. Your entire body is functioning because of the presence of mind as a flame in you. Otherwise, you will be like an unlit candle.
- Life is also the same. It uses oxygen and lives on some matter, like the flame of the candle. The air is like the oxygen and exhibits its activities in the body just as the flame exhibits its activity. The Consciousness exhibits life.
- Life and light are very similar. The body functions just like a wick. If you put more wax into the wick, it will burn longer. If you put more food into the body, it will last longer. This body is holding onto the Jyotishmati pragya. Hence ‘Vishoka va Jyotishmati’ or get rid of unhappiness and be happy. At the same time know that your mind is made up of light. It does not matter. Your mind is energy, you are energy, Jyotishmati!!
Photos from the internet.
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