Yoga was ‘discovered’ (for want of a better word) more than 5,000 years ago in India, and the word ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit word yuj meaning to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as ‘union’ as it encompasses a range of mind and body practices for complete well being. The exercise part of yoga – asanas – are only one part of it.
Ancient Indians were probably less concerned with banishing back fat than we are today, and hence the poses alone will not necessarily melt away flab, says Delna Mistry Anand. But what they will do instead is strengthen muscles, correct posture and increase balance. (Not a bad compensation, I’d say!) And that’s not all, the asana will also help ease back pain or stiffness. The added bonus that yoga offers (vis-à-vis other exercises) is that regular practice brings mindfulness, which ultimately leads you to healthier lifestyle choices.
So it may be worth spending a few minutes a day doing yoga. Start with a few exercises to warm up, or take a short walk/ jog. Centre yourself by taking a few deep breaths in and out, and then you are ready to start your yoga routine.
Extended Side Angle Pose or Parsvakonasana
Stand with your feet 3.5 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down. Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the kneecap is in line with the center of the right ankle. Roll the left hip slightly forward, toward the right, but rotate your upper torso back to the left.
Anchor the left (back) heel to the floor. Then exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. As you bend the knee aim the inner knee toward the little-toe side of the foot. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor.
Firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs. Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, then turn the left palm to face toward your head and with an inhalation reach the arm over the back of your left ear, palm facing the floor. Stretch from your left heel through your left fingertips, lengthening the entire left side of your body. Turn your head to look at the left arm. Release your right shoulder away from the ear. Try to create as much length along the right side of your torso as you do along the left.
As you continue to ground your left heel to the floor, exhale and lay the right side of your torso down onto (or bring it as close as possible to) the top of the right thigh. Press your right fingertips (or palm) on the floor just outside of your right foot. Actively push the right knee back against the inner arm.
Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute if you can. Inhale to come up. Push both heels strongly into the floor and reach the left arm forcefully toward the ceiling to lighten the upward movement. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left. Then come up and repeat on the other side.
Spinal Twist or Vakar Asana
Sit erect, stretching your legs in front together. Hands by the side, palm resting on the ground, fingers together pointing forward.
Slowly fold your right leg at the knee and place the sole on the ground near the knee of the left leg. The knee of the right leg should make 90° angle straight towards sky.
Taking the right hand towards back, place the palm on the ground at the distance of 9″ straight from spine. Fingers together pointing backward. Then place the left hand towards the other side of the right knee. If legs are stretched towards east then fingers of the hand will point towards north.
Now twist your head and back and try to look behind you, and stay there for a minute.
While returning to the original position, first bring your head to the original position, then your hands and then stretch your legs out and repeat on the other side.
From a seated position, extend one leg diagonally out.
Stretch sideways and down towards the extended leg remaining sideways with the
Extend the arm out sideways over the top of the head to stretch the side of the body. Try to lengthen the arm away from the body to stop any pressure within the shoulder joint and increase the stretch within the shoulder. Make sure the palm is evenly balanced on the mat.
Try to grab the foot or ankle, and rotate the body opening
the chest upwards.
Hold for 5 to 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.
This is not only a great side stretch but also an amazing hamstring stretch.
Dhanurasana or Bow Pose
This yoga posture has been named after the shape it takes –
that of a bow.
Lie on your stomach with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by the side of your body.
Fold your knees and hold your ankles.
Breathing in, lift your chest off the ground and pull your legs up and back. Look straight ahead.
Keep the pose stable and continue to take long deep breaths as you relax in this pose.
After 15 -20 seconds, as you exhale, gently bring your legs and chest to the ground. Release the ankles and relax.
Delna Mistry Anand is a Wellness writer and a certified Life Coach.
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