Five yoga poses to fix you for life!
Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, talks of five poses that should fix you for life.
It may be a hyperbole, but there are said to be 84 lakh poses and practices in yoga. Even if it were an exaggeration, it sums up the depth of yoga and how much there is to learn in yoga. However, certain yogic texts emphasise some poses over the others as more relevant for our complete health.
Interestingly, today, thanks to modern life-style one may find even the simplest of these poses difficult to practice, like for instance the lotus pose (padmasana). Therefore we are borrowing from the spirit and structure of these poses to give you simpler alternatives.
A complete practice should ideally include an inversion, backbend, forward bend, twist, and a standing pose which challenges you. An inversion is not easy for most people, so we have taken a closer alternative that replicates its effect. We have included in the list of certain poses which combine the benefits of several others, like for instance the standing dog (also called adhomukhasvanasana) which has the impact of an inversion, a forward bend and an arm balancer.
Remember however this list is, technically incorrect without the practice of some pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation.
Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre.
Image: Five yoga poses to fix you for life!
Adhomukhasvasana (Downward facing dog)
Go on your fours, on your palms and knees. Inhale. Exhaling, raise the hips up, drawing the heels as much down as possible, to keep the feet flat (this may be achieved after regular practice over weeks). Push down from shoulder blades. Look at the stomach.
Hold for a few seconds, breathing normally. Slowly after regular practice, increase duration to 30 seconds or so.
Benefits: Prevents and controls any problem of the spine. Has a marvellous impact on blood pressure problems, impacting positively both high and low blood pressure (amongst the few poses with such a double impact). Fights obesity. Tones and shapes limbs. Is one of the most therapeutic of poses which also impacts your body tone and shape.
Image: Adhomukhasvasana (Downward facing dog)
Vajrasana (Thunderbolt pose)
Sit as shown, with heels flared, and big toes touching. Try to keep the knees together. Hands on the thighs shown.
Shut eyes meditatively. Initially stay only as long as is comfortable. But after regular practice duration may be increased to three to five minutes. It may also be used as the ideal pose for pranayama and meditation practices, though that needs even more commitment in terms of practice.
Avoid: If having knee problems.
Benefits: Again, one of the most powerful curative poses. It blocks blood flow to legs, makes it move up to the torso and the head, where most of our important systems are stacked. It helps control spinal problems. Is used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic ailments.
Helps deal with digestive issues. It is also used to fight fat. Daily practice of this pose after meals will help in many chronic ailments.
Image: Vajrasana (Thunderbolt pose)
Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
It is a basic backbend. Lie on your stomach, palms under shoulders. Chin on the ground. Feet should be together. Inhale. Push into palms and lift chin and chest off the ground. Elbows may be bent, but must remain close to the body. Drop the shoulders, push the chest and chin out. Hold for a few seconds, with normal breathing. Release. Repeat thrice initially. Later hold the final pose for long.
Avoid: If having lower back problems learn it in a phased manner and modifications according to your individual case.
Benefits: Massages the kidneys and the stress glands at the lower back. Tones the entire spine. Prevents aging, especially at the chin and neck region. Improves immunity due to impact on the thymus gland at the chest. It boosts mood.
Image: Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
Ardha matysendrasana (Half spinal twist)
Sit on your right hip. Pass left leg over right knee. Right hand goes up and over the left leg as shown, to grasp the ankle. Left hand goes behind. Inhale. Exhaling twist over the left shoulder. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, breathing normally, to hold the twist. Release, with an exhalation. Repeat for other side. Later increase stamina in the final pose.
Benefits: It gives a sideways twist to the spine. Tones the nerves, which manage important functions of your body. Boosts respiration. Elevates mood. Is treated as a detox pose.
Image: Ardha matysendrasana (Half spinal twist)
Ekapada pranamasana (One-legged prayer pose)
This pose is referred by other names as well. To do this, stand on the right leg. Bend the left leg at the knee, placing left sole at the right thigh. Fold hands to keep them at the chest or overhead. Hold for as long as you can, holding the balance. Repeat for other side. Stamina in the final pose must be increased with practice.
Benefits: Aligns the left-right brain hemispheres. Improves mental focus, grounds and de-stresses. Work on the primitive parts of our brain dealing with proprioception -- this part of the nervous system also deals with impulse control, so the pose helps with emotional culturing.
Image: Ekapada pranamasana (One-legged prayer pose)