Back Stretching – Back to Basics

Whenever we talk about health and fitness through yoga, we focus greatly on tone the abs, hips and legs, but rarely any thought comes to our mind that our back and spinal cord also need to be worked on for fitness. The back is responsible for our posture and we need to exercise for fitness of our back.



Spinal Cord


Most of us may not be aware of the fact that the spinal cord is the Information-Superhighway of the body, and connects the brain and the rest of the body by transmitting neuro-chemical messages. We can not do even a simple activity such as lifting our leg if the spinal cord does not act as a transmitter of message.

For having a strong back, it is advised to sit with a straight back as required in most meditation practices. In Yogic physiology, it is seen that the Energy centers – Chakras- of the body are located along the spinal cord. Hence the health of the spine can not be neglected. Our back protects the spinal cord.

Stiffness of the spine is associated with ageing. With a flexible spine, the ageing process slows down.

Muscles of the Back

Human being, the unique member in whole Animal Kingdom who can stand erect, just because of the muscles in different layers in the Back, that work together to keep us erect.

Erector Spinae – This small muscle located deep within the lower back, behind the abdomen is largely responsible for keeping a person standing erect.

Latissimus Dorsi- Popularly called the ‘lats’, these muscles are used to lower the arms and pull the chest upwards.

Trapezius – this muscle running down the back of the neck and between the shoulders, is responsible for the shrugging action. This muscle absorbs most of the stress that an individual experiences. Hence you feel relieved, when this muscle is massaged.

In today’s Yoga routine we have shown a complete exercise for the back. There are 5 natural movements of the spine: Upward Stretch, Sideward Bend, Backward Bend, Forward Bend and Spinal Twist. We have given 1 asana for each movement. There is also one asana shown, which helps to strengthen the lower back muscles. The last asana relaxes your back and helps to calm you. Practice <!– @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –Prathis routine daily, after warming up the body. This can be done whether you practice Yoga or any other form of Fitness routine.

Caution: People suffering from Slipped Disc and other back-related debilities should consult their Doctor and a qualified Yoga therapist before attempting these asanas.

Tadasana

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart.
  • Raise your hands along the sides of your body and join your palms above your head.
  • Raise your torso upwards.
  • Now raise your body upwards, lifting the body on the toes.
  • Keep looking at a point to maintain your balance and hold the position for 30 secs. Breathe normally.

Ardha Chandrasana

  • Stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder-distance apart.
  • Raise your left hand upwards.
  • Begin to bend towards the right side, and place your right palm on your right calf.
  • Hold the position for 15-30secs. Breathe normally.
  • Then repeat on the other side.

Ushtrasana

  • Kneel on the floor with your knees shoulder width apart.
  • Curl your toes at the back.
  • Drop your palms on your heels.
  • Inhale and push your stomach and torso outwards.
  • Hold the position for 15-30secs. Breathe normally.

Note: If you are unable to reach both your hands, then hold the posture with one hand.

Janusirsana

  • Sit straight, with your legs stretched out.
  • Bend your right leg and place the foot in the groin.
  • Stretch your hands upwards.
  • Exhale and bring your hands down towards your toes. Try to interlock your fingers and wrap your hands around your heel.
  • Hold the posture for 15-30secs. Breathe normally.
  • Then repeat with the other leg.

Ardha Matsyendrasana

  • Sit straight, with your legs stretched out.
  • Bend your right leg, taking the foot across the left leg. Place the foot on the floor.
  • Bend your left hand. Place your left elbow on the outside of your right knee.
  • Place your right palm on the floor behind your back.
  • Exhale and twist your lower back, and turn your torso to look over your right shoulder.
  • Hold the posture for 15-30secs. Breathe normally.
  • Then repeat with the other leg.

Bhujangsana variation

  • Lie flat on your stomach, with your feet together and your palms on the floor beside your shoulders.
  • Press your feet together. Tighten your legs and buttocks for support.
  • Inhale and raise your torso upwards by supporting yourself on your palms.
  • The lower back muscles contract to hold you in position.
  • Hold the posture for 10-30secs. Breathe normally.

Shashankasana

  • Kneel down. Interlock the big toes of both feet.
  • Keep your feet spread out, with the heels pointing outwards.
  • Slowly lower your hips and buttocks down on your feet.
  • The buttocks rest on the instep of your feet and not on the heels.
  • Now inhale and raise your hands upwards.
  • Exhale, and lower your body down on to the floor. Drop your palms on the floor in front of your body.
  • Hold the position for 30secs. Breathe normally.
  • This posture relaxes the your back as well as your whole being.

Note: Avoid dropping your head down if you have extremely high BP.

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