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How to tone your back with yoga

Last updated on: August 10, 2012 16:32 IST

How to tone your back with yoga

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Shameem Akhtar

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya, trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, Kerala, shows a few poses that take care of your back.

The back is the most neglected part of the body, it appears. Even in terms of aesthetics, most beauty products bypass this. Even beauty treatments make it part of the whole body workout and do not favour it as a separate, complete part of yourself needing special attention, as it rightly deserves. In fact,  whether it be in terms of muscular tone and beauty, or in terms of health, or treatments including spa ones, the back is not given the rightful attention it deserves. Yoga, on the other hand, works all the rest of the body parts, including the face by working the back.
 
In terms of health, lack of muscle tone of the back can suggest spinal discomfits, from the top of the neck up to the tailbone. In terms of stress also, the worst victim is the back because the band of muscles called psoas at the lower back constrict under extreme emotional conflicts and cause a large proportion of lower back issues.

In uro-genital problems also, when there is swelling or discomfiture in the reproductive system, the pressure gets transferred to the back. Similarly, kidney health is also related to lower back tone. In terms of aesthetics, upper back tone can contribute to the youthfulness of your neck and jawline, and therefore of the entire face.

For more of Shameem's yoga writings visit http://jaisivananda.blogspot.com. Shameem's second book Yoga in the workplace, with photographs by ace photographer Fawzan Husain, is now available at online shops and bookshops across the country. It is also available as e-book, with Kindle, Amazon.
 


Photographs: Shameem Akhtar

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How to tone your back with yoga

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Ardha ushtrasana (Half camel pose)

Sit on your knees, as shown. Knees close, if possible, though may be difficult for rank beginners. Place hands behind, with fingers pointed towards hips. Pressing down into the palms, inhale to lift the hips high. Then exhale to drop the head behind. Continue normal breathing, and raising the hips high as much as is possible. Hold for ten seconds initially, increasing time to half a minute.

Inhale, exhaling, lower hips back, lifting head back to normal position, to end the pose.
 
Avoid: If having knee or neck, wrist problems.
 
Benefits: Tones the back. Prevent all back problems. Used to heal the lower back, if done in a phased manner. Aids weight loss due to pressure at the throat and thyroid. Boosts respiration and immunity.


Image: Ardha ushtrasana (Half camel pose)
Photographs: Shameem Akhtar
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Ardha ushtrasana (Half camel pose 2)

Sit on your toes. Place hands behind, fingers pointed towards hips. Inhale to raise hips, drop head back.

Continue normal breathing and hold for ten seconds initially, working up to half a minute over the next few weeks.

Release,by dropping the hips back and lifting head up with an exhalation.

Avoid: If having neck or wrist problems.

Benefits: As above, more intense.


Image: Ardha ushtrasana (Half camel pose 2)
Photographs: Shameem Akhtar
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Makarasana (Sphinx pose)

Lie on your stomach. Place hands under jaw, as shown. Move elbows closer to the chest. Bring feet together, resting the back of the feet on the mat. Hold this pose, breathing normally throughout. Start with half a minute to increase time up to a minute, after a few weeks of practice.

Points to note: If having lower back or knee problems, keep feet apart.

Benefits: Tones the entire back. De-stresses completely through belly breathing. Tones the kidneys.


Image: Makarasana (Sphinx pose)
Photographs: Shameem Akhtar

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Supta Eka Pada Pawanmuktasana (Lying single leg energy release pose)

Lie on your back. Lift right leg up, fold at knee, inhaling. Exhaling,hold it firmly to the stomach. Point toes ahead, of both feet. Continue normal breathing.

Hold for a minute. Lift leg up, inhale. Exhale, drop it straight down. Do for the other leg.
 
Benefits: It is a powerful healing pose. Release constrictions along the entire spine.

Tones the back, and the legs. Resolves digestive problems. Used to heal and control chronic problems like high blood pressure, diabetes.


Image: Supta Eka Pada Pawanmuktasana (Lying single leg energy release pose)
Photographs: Shameem Akhtar

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Druta Dwipada Pawanmuktasana (Dynamic two-legged lying energy release pose)

Do as above (the previous pose), however with both legs held firmly to chest.

Then rock forwards and backwards on the mat, as shown, five to ten times, with normal breathing. After a few weeks increase it to 30 or so. Rest by releasing the legs and lying down in the corpse pose (shavasana), explained in earlier columns.
 
Benefits: Same as above, more intense. Aids weightloss.


Image: Druta Dwipada Pawanmuktasana (Dynamic two-legged lying energy release pose)
Photographs: Shameem Akhtar

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