PIX: FIVE Yoga poses for correcting your posture
Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, takes you through five poses to remove postural defects.
Several modern-day therapies that use movement to heal have borrowed heavily from yoga: this includes Pilates, Alexander technique and dance therapy.
That's because yoga gives posture primary importance to boost self-confidence, communicate, gain emotional control and even heal.
A slumped body is not only unaesthetic but also unhealthy.
This is because the spine holds the rest of the torso up against gravity.
Most of the major systems of the body -- circulatory, uro-genital, digestive, respiratory, excretory, endocrine etc -- are all stacked up in the torso.
Their health is directly affected by the health of the spine. Even voice throw depends on the spine.
Today modern day gadgets and life-style strain the spine by keeping it sedentary or curved for long hours. Even entertainment has become largely sedentary, encouraging a body slump.
Since it is difficult to correct the posture while being engaged in such activity (though that is an ideal condition), having a regular yoga practice will definitely help in preventing the slump from becoming a permanent deformity and liability.
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.
Disclaimer: This column just shares the columnist's passion for yoga which is ideally learned under the guidance of an expert.
Image: Yoga poses for correcting your posture
Bakasana (Crane pose)
Also referred to as ardhachandrasana (crescent pose). Stand up straight. Place right leg ahead, the right foot facing ahead. Bend right leg at the knee.
Draw the hands along the body as shown, palms facing up. Inhale. Exhaling, tilt forward, straightening both legs so the body forms a T-shape.
Keep the eyes fixed on some point of focus. Breathe normally. Hold for 15 seconds initially, slowly increasing duration to a minute with regular practice. Inhale, exhaling fold the right leg at the knee, drop the back foot down, to stand up straight. Repeat for the other leg.
Benefits: You will find out that one leg is often more misaligned or weak.
This in turns distorts posture. Becoming aware of this, and correcting it, will promote better posture. The forward tilt of the torso works out the entire spine.
The legs become super strong, so the body's weight is given more support, so the spine is not strained. This is used to rectify posture.
Image: Bakasana (Crane pose)
Eka pada utkat pranamasana (One-legged squat prayer pose)
Stand straight. Fold right leg at the knee. Place foot high on left thigh.
Place palms at chest, as shown. Inhale. Exhaling lower hips gently, to as far down as you can go without tilting torso to the front. Hold for 15 seconds.
Breathe normally throughout. Inhale, exhaling stand up, releasing the right leg. Do for the left leg. Increase duration with continued practice.
Benefits: A full squat as above tones the back muscles, working them out so they support the spine and your posture. Improved back tone is also said to promote better breathing and mood.
Image: Eka pada utkat pranamasana (One-legged squat prayer pose)
Parvatasana (Mountain pose)
Also referred to as adhomukhasana (downward facing dog). It is often referred to as the inverted V-pose.
Go on your fours, palms under shoulders, legs bent at knees. Inhale. Exhaling lift hips off the ground, straighten at the knees, push back heels, apply pressure at the shoulders.
Continue normal breathing, holding for 15 seconds, with the attention fixed on the stomach. Inhale, exhaling lower knees back to the ground.
Repeat a few times. Over time, increase duration in the final posture.
Benefits: Is a complete spinal workout. Tones upper back, makes the back muscles supple and elastic so they provide better support to the back.
The hips are also worked out, thus encouraging their support to the legs which, when they become strained, can cause postural defects.
Image: Parvatasana (Mountain pose)
Tadasana (Palmtree pose)
Stand up straight, feet a foot apart, pointed ahead. Inhale, lifting arms overhead.
Exhaling, go up the toes, interlock fingers, turning them palms outwards.
Continue normal breathing, but extend yourself intensely. Hold for ten to 15 seconds initially.
Then inhale, releasing your hands, exhaling lower your heels back to the ground.
Repeat three to four times. Later, try to do this once, increasing duration. This may be done several times during the day.
Benefits: It is said to increase height in growing children if done dynamically (walking up and down on the toes instead of standing in one place).
It is a complete spinal workout. Tones legs, so they can support the overworked spine.
Image: Tadasana (Palmtree pose)
Utkatasana (Chair squat)
Stand with feet a foot apart, pointed ahead. Stretch out hands at shoulder level, inhaling. Exhaling lower hips as much as you can without tilting forward. Hold the pose for ten seconds.
Over time increase duration. Breathe normally in final pose. Inhale, raising hips back to starting position. Repeat thrice.
Benefits: A complete body workout, it tones the spine, back muscles, legs. Promotes mental and physical stamina.
Image: Utkatasana (Chair squat)