Yoga for the Vertebral Column (Spinal Cord)

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Spinal

The human spine is made up of 26 bones called the Vertebrae. These protect the Spinal Cord and allow us to stand upright or bend forwards/backwards. Various day to day activities and bad posture cause the deformation of the vertebral column and lead to a number of Spinal ailments. Changes in the shape of the bones cause severe pain as they put pressure on the Spinal Cord and Nerves. These may be prevented by improving our lifestyle and adapting Yogic exercises in our daily routine. Baba Ramdev suggests that we perform Pranayama and Asanas to lead a healthy and carefree life. One may start the workout by performing half an hour of Pranayama as described in the section – Great Breathing. After this, we will undertake the following exercises.

Spinal

We start by doing 7 Sukshm Vyayam (small exercises). These small exercises will loosen up your joints and flex your muscles so that you can then undertake the Asanas.

Exercise 1: For the Ankles – Rotate your ankle back and forth. With great effort, your entire foot must extend and retract. This is very good for Arthritis and you’ll start feeling the release of tension from your feet.

Exercise 2: For the Hips – Butterfly is an exercise for the hips. Bend your knees and connect the bottom of your feet. Grab them with both hands by interlocking the fingers. Now make a butterfly wing-like action with your legs. You can repeat this exercise till you start feeling your hips loosening up and relaxing.

Exercise 3: For the Wrists – Make a fist with both hands with your thumb curled inside the fingers and then rotate them, first clockwise and then anti-clockwise.

Exercise 4: For the Shoulders – Bend your arms and place your fingers on your shoulders. Connect your elbows in front of your chest. Now, while breathing in, rotate your arms up and around your shoulders, all the way back as far as possible. Continue rotating your shoulders, while breathing out, till your elbows re-connect in front of your chest. First, do this clockwise and then anti-clockwise.

Exercise 5: For the Shoulders – Now stretch your arms above your head and grab each other at the wrists. While breathing in pull your left hand with your right hand behind your head. Make sure your neck is straight. Then, while breathing out, come back and pause in the middle. Do the same on the other side. Take caution and perform this exercise slowly if you suffer from cervical spondylitis or pain in the neck. All these ailments will subside with this exercise.

Exercise 6: For the Shoulders – Place both your hands on your knees and rotate your shoulders clockwise and then anti-clockwise. Repeat this at least 5 times each.

This next exercise is for both your shoulders as well as your arms. Clench your fingers on both hands into fists. Extend your thumbs upwards. Now connect your clenched fingers in front of your chest. Also, connect your thumbs. Now bring your hands close to your chest. While breathing in extend your hands away from your chest. Your elbows will become as straight as possible, but make sure you don’t separate your fingers and thumbs from each other. The spine should be in an upright posture all this time. Then while breathing out bring them back to your chest. Repeat this at least 5 times.

Exercise 7: For the Neck – Lift your right arm, place it on the side of your head and press against each other. The pressure will create a shiver in the neck muscles and strengthen them. Do the same for the other side and from the front.

While breathing in, turn your head to the right as far as you can and hold. Make sure you’re not turning your chest, only the neck. Now, while breathing out, come back to the center. Do the same towards the left. Repeat at least 5 times.

Now bend your neck in front so as to touch your chest with your chin and then bend backwards as far as possible. Take caution that if you suffer from cervical spondylitis then do not bend your neck forwards. Also rotate your neck around, first clockwise and then anti-clockwise. Do this very slowly and if you feel like your head is spinning, then open up your eyes and stop.

Now we will perform some Asanas:

Asana 1: Ustrasana (Camel Pose) – Stand on your knees and toes. Now place your hands on your back and while breathing in bend your Spinal Cord as far back as possible. When you reach the farthest, slowly remove your hands from your waist and place them on your heels. Hold this pose for a moment and while breathing in relax back to your initial post. This is very beneficial for your Spine, Thyroid and Urinary ailments. Again caution to people with Hernia to not perform this Asana.

Asana 2: Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) – Remain standing on your knees but spread your feet backwards. Now fold your arms in front of your chest, first the left and then the right over it. Again while breathing in bend as far back as possible. Hold this pose for a moment and while breathing in relax back to your initial post. Make sure you do it slowly otherwise you’ll feel dizzy.

Asana 3: Makarasana (Crocodile Pose) – This is the relaxation pose. Lie down on your belly and place your chin on your palms, elbows on the ground. Now bend your legs one by one and then straighten them out. Repeat this for a number of times with each leg and then do it with both legs together. This Asana is very good for any spine-related ailments whether it is in your Cervical Vertebrae or lower back.

Asana 4: Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) – This is also considered as the Asana for relaxation. Extend your feet as far back as possible; place both hands on the sides of your chest and chin on the ground. Slowly, while breathing in, raise your head up and look upwards while arching your Spinal Cord upward. Take caution that if you have Hernia, do not perform this Asana and if you have heart-related ailments then don’t exert too much strength. Keep looking up, elbows must be a little bent and body must be uplifted till your naval. Hold this pose for some time and while exhaling come back down. Repeat at least a couple of times.

The second method of performing this Asana is to place your hands under your throat, right below your chin. Keep your left hand on the ground and right hand over it. Again, slowly, while inhaling, raise your head up and look upwards. Keep looking up, elbows must be a little bent and body must be uplifted till your naval. Hold this pose for some time and while exhaling come back down. Repeat at least a couple of times.

The third method of performing this Asana is to place your hands on the sides of your chest, chin on the ground and while breathing in, lift your head up along with your palms parallelly. Hold this pose for a moment and while breathing out lower yourself to the initial pose. Repeat at least couple of times.

The fourth method of performing this Asana is to place your hands on the sides of your chest, chin on the ground and spread your legs apart by approximately a feet or so. Now, while breathing in, raise your head up, turn around over your right shoulder and try to look at your left heel by twisting your Spinal Cord. Hold this pose for a moment and while breathing out relax back to the initial pose. Repeat on the other side.

Asana 5: Shalabhasana (Locust Pose) – Still lying on your stomach, place both your hands under your thighs, chin on the ground. One by one lift each leg up, hold for a while and slowly bring them back down.

The second method of performing this Asana is to extend one hand in front of your head and fold the other behind your Spinal Cord. Then, while inhaling, lift the extended hand in front and the opposite leg from behind. Hold the pose for a while and then slowly, while exhaling, come back down. Repeat on the other side.

The third method of performing this Asana is to fold both hands behind your back and while inhaling lift your head up. Hold the pose for a while and then slowly, while exhaling, come back down.

Now do this Asana by lifting both your head and your legs simultaneously.

Asana 6: Vipareet Naukasana (Inverted Boat Pose) – This is another Asana which is very good for your spine. Take caution not to perform it in case you have spinal pain. While lying on your stomach extend both your hands in front of your head and at the same time stretch your legs downwards. Now balancing yourself on your navel lift both your hands and head in the front along with your legs at the back, all at the same time. Hold this pose for a while and then slowly relax back to your initial pose.

Asana 7: Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) – Again while lying on your stomach bend both your legs and grab them at the ankle with your hands. Now, while breathing in, pull them upwards at the same time lifting your head and chest. Again your entire body is balanced on your navel and your Spinal Cord is arched back. Hold this pose for a moment and while breathing out relax back to your initial pose. Refrain from performing this Asana if you have Hernia or backache.

Asana 8: Ekapada Uttanasana (Standing Splits Pose) – Lift your right leg up to 90 degrees and rotate it back down. Repeat for the other leg. Make sure your legs are straight at all times. You may repeat this exercise from 5 to 10 times. People with heart diseases, high blood pressure and Hernia may avoid doing this exercise.

Asana 9: Ardha Pavanamuktasana (Half Gas release pose) – Next we do Ardha Pavanamuktasana known to be very beneficial for people with gastric problems and also relieves backache. While lying down, fold your right leg and grab it with both hands by interlocking your fingers. Now press it against your chest as much as possible. Make sure both feet are stretched downwards.

Then do it with both legs.

Asana 10: Katiutanasana (Raised Back Pose) – Bend both legs and place your feet near your hips. Place both hands on your side, palms facing down. Then, while breathing in, lift up your back as far as possible. But, in this case, make sure your shoulders and hips are firmly placed on the ground. This will create an arch of your spinal cord. Hold this pose for a moment and then, while breathing out, lower your back to the ground.

Asana 11: Markatasana (Monkey pose) – While lying down, bend both legs so as to place your heels near the hips and stretch your arms onto your sides. Now rotate your hips towards your right so that your knees touch the ground, ankle on ankle and knee on knee. At the same time rotate your neck so as to look in the opposite direction. This is one of the most important exercises for your lower back and it is very simple and easy to perform. Do the same in the other direction. Repeat at least 5 times on each side.

The second method of performing this Asana is to spread your legs apart while maintaining the same pose. Again rotate your hips towards your right all the way down, this time right knee lands on the ground and left knee on the right ankle. At the same time rotate your neck so as to look in the opposite direction. Do the same in the other direction. Repeat at least 5 times on each side.

The third method of performing this Asana is a little difficult but very effective for your spine. Lift your right leg at 90 degrees. Then rotate it to drop near your left hand. At the same time rotate your neck so as to look in the opposite direction. Make sure your knees are absolutely straight and feet are fully stretched. Do the same in the other direction. Repeat at least 5 times on each side.

You may also perform this with both legs together.

Asana 12: Merudandasana (Spinal Column pose) – While laying on your back, place your right foot on top of the left in such a way that its heel is resting between the big toe and first finger of the other foot. Now rotate your hips towards your right so that your feet are flat on the ground. At the same time rotate your neck so as to look in the opposite direction. Do the same in the other direction. Repeat at least 5 times on each side.

Asana 13: Kandharasana (Shoulder Pose) – Bend both legs and place your feet near your hips. Grab both legs around the ankles. Then, while breathing in, lift up your back as far as possible. Make sure your shoulders and your heels are firmly placed on the ground. Hold this pose for a moment and then, while breathing out, lower your back to the ground.

At the end of these Yogic exercises, it is important to relax by lying down in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) for a while. Relax your legs and place your arms on your sides while slowly breathing. This will let your body calm down, relax your Spinal Cord and your breathing will become normal and relaxed. Concentrate on your breathing and immerse yourself in the spirituality of your beliefs. Your mind and body will align and all psychological and physical ailments will leave you.

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