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10 Asanas For A Healthy Mind And Body

By DIVYA ROLLA
June 20, 2022 18:24 IST
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Divya Rolla suggests asanas you can do every day to improve your health.

Want a strong core?

Want good muscle endurance?

Want to become more flexible and have greater lung capacity?

Or do you simply want more joy in your life? More peace of mind and less stress maybe.

Seems like a tall wish list and pretty impossible, right?

Well, it is not, and you don't need to look any further to attain all this. You have Yoga!

When most people think of yoga, they always think of it as a solution for only one thing: Body flexibility.

But when you practise yoga in its fullest sense, both on and off the mat, it opens possibilities to all of the above wishes for us.

So, this International Yoga Day, let's take that first step towards a better version of you. The first step to gaining a better understanding and control over the mind is the body.

Presenting my list of everyday go-to asanas, which help in keeping my body healthy and supple.

If you are completely new to yoga, I recommend practising with a teacher and truly learning how to perform these postures with good alignment and technique before doing them on your own.

Let's get started:

All photographs: Kind courtesy Cult.fit

1. Supta Padangusthasana 1 and 2 (Reclining-Hand-to-Big Toe Pose II)

Supta Padangusthasana

How to do it

  • Lie down on your back
  • Take a yoga strap and wrap it around the ball of your right foot. Keep the left leg stretched out and parallel and keep the leg active
  • Stretch your right foot to the ceiling, ensure your right hip stays down and in
  • Hold for a minute, then take an inhalation, then open your right leg out to the side for Supta Padangusthasana II
  • Hold for a minute, then, bring your right leg back to centre.
  • Release, then repeat on the other side.

Hold for 1 minute on each side and repeat twice.

You may place a bolster under the thigh of the leg being lifted for further support.

This pose is my go-to pose for beginners to advanced practitioners.

It lengthens the hamstrings, releases the low back, opens the hips and inner thighs, and relieves tightness along the outer leg, hips and glutes, all while keeping the spine neutral, safe and supported.

 

2. Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended side angle pose)

Utthita Parsvakonasana

How to do it

  • Stand in Tadasana -- knee caps lifted, strong quadriceps, core active and shoulders rolled back
  • Step back with the right leg into a wide stance, both feet parallel, hips facing forward.
  • Turn the left foot out to 90 degree and the right foot slightly inward, bend the left knee till the knee and ankle are in one line.
  • Inhale, place the left forearm on the left thigh and open the right shoulder, if comfortable, release the left palm down on the floor behind the left leg in line with the shoulder and extend the right hand up and over in line with the right ear. The entire right side of the body should be in one line.
  • Fix the gaze on the right finger tip
  • Hold for 10 breaths
  • Inhale slowly straightening up and exhale back to Tadasana.
  • Repeat the same thing on the other side to finish.

Hold for 1 min on each side and then repeat.

This beautiful posture enhances lung capacity; strengthens ankles, knees, hamstrings, hips, spine, shoulders, lungs; stretches ankles, hips, hamstrings, spine, chest, and lungs; relieves sciatica and lower back pain; strengthens digestion. Need I say more?

 

3. Supta Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Supta Baddha Konasana

How to do it

  • Lie down on the back in Savasana (corpse pose).
  • Place the palms on the mat.
  • Inhale, bend the knees and join the feet together
  • Closer to the inner thighs, knees pointing to the side wall, palms resting on the mat
  • Hold for 1-2 mins, exhale and release lie down back in Savasana.

Hold for 1-2 minutes.

You can place a cushion under each knee for extra support.

This posture is restorative, or passive, and it allows the body to rest.

It can soothe the nervous system and has many physiological benefits including lowering the heart rate and aiding in digestion and sleep.

It also opens the hips, shoulders, and chest, and in doing so allows for deeper diaphragmatic breathing.

For some people, this pose can also relieve tension and alleviate pain in the lower back.

 

4. Sarpasana (Snake pose)

Sarpasana

How to do it

  • Lie down in a prone position on the abdomen, feet flat, forehead on the mat.
  • Start by interlocking the fingers behind the back, inhale in position
  • Exhale slowly stretch the hands towards the feet and lift the forehead, chin and chest up.
  • Try to keep the glute muscles active
  • Hold for 15 secs
  • Exhale slowly release the hands and come down with control and once again relax in the prone position.

Hold for 15 seconds and then repeat thrice. This posture helps relieve stiffness in the spine, thereby helping improve posture and helping improve respiration

 

5. Shalabasana (Locust pose; Repeat two times)

Shalabasana

How to do it

  • Lie down in a prone position on your abdomen.
  • To begin, tuck your hands completely under your body, with the elbows straight and the fingers interlocked or palms flat on the mat.
  • keep the feet flat and together and place your chin on the mat and gaze forward.
  • Inhale lengthen one leg at a time from the pelvis and lift both legs up with control.
  • Try to keep the knees straight and your glute muscles active.
  • Hold for 5 breaths.
  • Exhale slowly bring the legs down with control and once again relax in the prone position.

This posture effectively will prepare you for deeper backbends, and also helps in strengthening the back of the torso, legs, and arms.

 

6. Dhanurasana (Bow pose)

Dhanurasana

How to do it

  • Start by lying down in a prone position in Makrasana (crocodile pose).
  • Extend the arms back towards the feet and place your forehead on the ground.
  • Now bend the knees bringing them close to the hips and hold the ankles.
  • Inhale slowly lift the head and chest up and bring the knees and thighs off the mat and chest open.
  • Hold for 10 breaths.
  • Exhale slowly coming back down and release the hands and legs and rest in Makrasana.

Hold for 15 secs and then repeat twice. '

This back-bending posture strengthens your back; opens your shoulders and chest; stabilises your legs; improves hip-flexor function; stimulates digestion and energy flow in your internal organs.

 

7. Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

Ustrasana

How to do it

  • Sit in Vajrasana (thunderbolt or kneeling pose) and when ready sit up on your knees -- knees hip width apart, thighs perpendicular to the floor and feet flat in line with the knees
  • As you inhale, lengthen the spine and draw in your tail-bone inward,
  • Place the hands on the hips and gently arch back, pushing the hips forward, opening the chest and one by one place the palms on the heels.
  • Keep the arms straight and gently drop the head back
  • Try and keep your hips and knees in one line
  • Stay in this posture for 30 seconds.
  • Inhale, release the feet and slowly come back to Vajrasana.

Hold for 30 seconds. This is a slightly more advanced back bending posture, and it increases flexibility in the spine; improves posture and removes tightness in the shoulders and the chest.

 

8. Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose)

Janu Sirsasana

How to do it

  • Sit in Dandasana (staff or seated pose) – core active, spine long, knee caps lifted, strong quadriceps, toes pulled towards the hips.
  • Bend the right knee and press the right foot flat along the left inner thigh, allow the knee to rest on the mat.
  • Inhale stretch the arms up.
  • Exhale fold forward keeping the chin up and spine long and reach for your left foot.
  • Inhale lift the chest and chin and extend the spine.
  • Exhale fold completely bringing the forehead to the knee. Keep the shoulders relaxed and elbows bent.
  • Hold for 10 breaths.
  • Inhale extend arms forward and come up with a long spine.
  • Exhale, release arms by the side.
  • Repeat the same thing on the other side to finish.

Hold for 1 minute on each side and then repeat twice.

This posture stretches the hamstring and increases the flexibility of the hip joints.

It also helps improve the disorders of the abdominal and pelvic region -- disorders that include pancreas, kidneys, and adrenal gland.

 

9. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Spinal Twist)

Ardha Matsyendrasana

How to do it

  • Start in Dandasana (seated pose)
  • Bend your knees and place your feet on the mat.
  • Fold the right knee further and place it flat on the mat, right knee and hip in one line.
  • Place the left foot near the right knee, and lengthen the spine
  • Place the left hand directly behind you, fingers pointing away from you,
  • Inhale, stretch the right hand all the way up, exhale, twist and take the right hand over and across the left leg and hold the left ankle.
  • Hold for 10 deep breaths and Inhale to release and come back to Dandasana.
  • Repeat the same thing on the other side to finish.

Hold for 30 seconds on each side and then repeat twice.

This posture lubricates and nourishes the spinal column, increases the elasticity of the muscles and ligaments of the spine, soothes the nervous system, prevents backache, massages internal organs, toning the liver, kidneys and spleen.

It also aids in digestion and helps reduce abdominal fat.

 

10. Sarvangasana, followed by Matyasana (Shoulder Stand and Fish Pose)

Sarvangasana

How to do it

  • Lie down in Shavasana (corpse pose).
  • Now bring your feet together, place your palms down in either side of the body and tuck your chin towards the chest
  • Inhale slowly lift both legs up to the ceiling with the hips on the mat, and hold here for a couple of breaths, now peel the hips off the ground, use your hands to support the back
  • Feet up towards the ceiling, feet, hips and shoulders in one line
  • Fix the gaze on the belly button
  • Try to keep the shoulders and elbows in one line
  • To release bend the knees to the forehead and slowly roll out of the position with control
  • Relax in Shavasana.

Hold for 1 minute each.

These are wonderful postures to be done only when properly learnt under the guidance of a teacher.

Their benefits are numerous. Together they slow down your heart rate and lower blood pressure and give your heart a rest and reduce the strain on your heart.

These poses activate your parasympathetic nervous system, ensuring the proper function of all internal processes such as digestion and elimination as well as restore hormonal balance.

Following them regularly will improve the venous return of blood from your legs. These poses are highly beneficial for people with varicose veins and haemorrhoids.

They also strengthen the deep-core muscles, legs, buttocks, and lower back.

Wishing you all a happy International Yoga Day.

Let's all celebrate by rolling our mats out and committing to our good health from this day forward!

Divya Rolla is the yoga and meditation lead at Cult.fit, a health tech start-up.


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DIVYA ROLLA