Rita guides you through a most loving and sacred yoga practice. Her gentle nature and lightness allow for the most wonderful unfolding to take place in her class. As a fellow student and teacher I am always appreciative of her gifts and radiant smile she shares with others. ... Aarti Ganesh           Read more...

Yogasanas for the Aching Back

Spine in our body is like the trunk of a tree. It is made up of many small bones called vertebrae. These vertebrae are further divided into five sections, namely the cervical region (the neck area) which contains 7 vertebrae (C1 to C7), the thoracic region (the chest area) which contains 12 vertebrae (T1 to T12), the lumber region (the abdominal area) consists of 5 vertebrae (L1 to L5), the sacrum region (the pelvic area) consists of 5 vertebrae (S1 to S5), and the coccyx region (the tail bone area) consists of 4 vertebrae. These are separated by discs, which allow the spine to bend. This structure of vertebrae and discs is supported along its length by muscles and ligaments. The spine threads through the centre of each vertebra, carrying nerves from the brain to the rest of the body.

CAUSES FOR SIMPLE BACK PAIN

Poor posture, lack of exercise, tension, stress, migraine, neck or back problems, overweight, standing or bending down forward for long periods, sitting in a chair that doesn't provide enough back support, handling loads that are simply too heavy, a trip or a fall or due to degeneration.

PREVENTION OF BACK PAIN

To take good care of the back, use a chair with a correct backrest and sit with your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest, sleep on a firm mattress, adopt correct postures whether you are sitting, standing or walking, take regular exercise, use relaxation techniques & try to reduce your stress levels through Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation. There are lots of Yoga asanas for the back problem, of which I have selected few which can easily be performed by every individual.

MAKARASANA (RELAXATION POSTURE)

• Lie face down on the abdomen on the mat with legs apart about 2 to 2 ½ feet, toes out to the sides, heels are in, facing towards each other.
• Cross your arms, place your right hand on the left shoulder, left hand on the right shoulder, head and face tilted one side.
• Take your mind towards the breath. Breathe in as slow as possible; breathe out as slow as possible.
• With each inhalation, expand the abdomen & touch it to the ground & with each exhalation relax the abdomen.
• Do this asana for 11 breaths (inhalation and exhalation).

BENEFITS
It is useful in relieving the waist pain, neck pain, spondylosis and the pain due to displacement of the spinal disc.

ARDHA BHUJANGASANA

• Lie face down on the abdomen on the mat with legs straight, feet apart or together, toes facing outside and forehead on the floor.
• Place your hands under the shoulders. Adjust the forearms by keeping the elbows down on the floor. Relax the whole body.
• Inhale slowly and lift your head up, chest up with forearms resting on the floor. When done, exhale and slowly come back.
• Do 5-10 times depending upon the body condition.
• If you feel that 5-10 times is difficult to do at a stretch, then take rest in between in Makarasana & start the same asana again.

BENEFITS
This exercise gives relief to upper back pain.

BHUJANGASANA

• Lie face down on the abdomen on the mat with legs straight, feet together, toes facing outside and forehead on the floor.
• Place your hands directly under the chest; your thumbs should touch the nipples. Relax the whole body.
• Inhale, slowly lift your head up, chest up, and then hold there for sometime with normal breathing. After that, if you feel like, roll your spine further back, otherwise slowly come back while exhaling to the starting position. See that the arms remain half bent at the elbows.
• Do 5-10 times depending upon the body condition.
• If you feel that 5-10 times is difficult to do at a stretch, then take rest in between in Makarasana & start again the same asana.

BENEFITS
One gets pressure on the end of spinal column by this exercise thus giving relief from the back pain.

BADDHA-NAUKASANA

• Lie face down on the abdomen on the mat with legs straight, feet together, toes facing outside and forehead on the floor.
• Put both the arms behind your back. Hold the left wrist with the right hand, make fist of the left hand with thumb inside.
• Take a deep breath. In the front body portion, raise the head, shoulder and chest and from the waist below, raise thighs without bending the legs from the knees. The shape of the body will resemble a boat.
• Hold it according to your back condition. When done, exhale and slowly come back.
• Do 5-10 times depending upon the body capacity. In between whenever you want, you can take rest in Makarasana & start again the same asana.

BENEFITS
Weight of the body will be borne by the waist, so the blood will also move towards the waist; thus relieving pain in waist area appreciably.

KATI- UTTHANASANA
• Lie down with back remaining on the ground.
• Keep the palms of both the hands on the ground.
• Now bend both the legs one after the other slowly from the knees and bring these rights up to the buttocks.
• Keep distance between the legs equal to the distance between the shoul¬ders.
• Now transfer the weight on both the legs and the hands and raise the waist as much as possible and remain steady. Breathe normally.
• In this position Kati which means waist and Utthan means raised. Remain in this condition for one to two minutes. If holding is not possible repeat this Asana two or three times.

USHTRASANA
• Sit in Vajrasana & from Vajrasana stand up on your knees. Keep the knees and feet slightly apart, toes pointing back & resting on the floor.
• Place your hands on your back. Inhale, arch back & place your palms one by one on to the soles of your feet or just grasp the left ankle with the left hand and right ankle with the right hand.
• Depending on your back condition, bend the head and neck backwards as much as you can without discomfort.
• Push the waist area slightly forward if you can & breathe normally.
• When done, exhale and slowly return to the starting position.
• In the initial stages, take support of somebody to hold you. This asana will be a little difficult initially but once you get used to it, you will feel very good.
• Do 3-5 times depending upon the body capacity. After that do Makarasana.

BENEFITS
Ushtrasana has proved a panacea and a boon for all the pains in the waist, hump and for cervical spondylosis.

DHANURASANA
• Lie face down on the abdomen on the mat with legs straight, feet together and toes facing outside.
• Bend the knees from behind, extend the arms backwards & hold the ankles.
• Place the forehead on the floor.
• Inhale; raise your body from both sides as high as possible by keeping the knees & feet apart as much as the distance between the shoulders.
• Bend the head backward as much as you can with ease.
• Hold it as long as you feel comfortable.
• Exhale & come back in the starting position & relax in Makarasana. Do 3-5 times.

BENEFITS
It is a wonderful posture for those suffering from rheumatism, pain in the knees & elbow joints, frozen shoulder and backache.

(Practice of Dhanurasana on completion of Ushtrasana is found to be very advantageous for the pain in the waist).

OMKAR PRANYAMA

SITTING POSTURE
Sit in any comfortable posture with the spine & head erect. You can keep your hands on the knees in Gyan Mudra Posture (join the tips of the index fingers to the tips of the thumbs while keeping the other fingers extended & loose). Close your eyes gently & relax all the muscles.

(Those who suffer from pain in waist will not find it easy to sit crosslegged on the ground. At the time of sitting, they should take a support of a pillow such that the buttocks remain a little above and knees touch the ground).

TECHNIQUE
There is no scientific training necessary for practice of Omkar.
• Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose.
• Open the lips and start chanting O slowly but loudly.
• Close your lips completely and pronounce M.
• In this pranayama AU is prolonged and M is short.
• Do this practice for 5 minutes.

BHRAMARI PRANAYAMA
Bhramari Pranayama is akin to Omkar Pranayama. Whereas while chanting Omkar your lips remain open, in Bhramari Pranayama, mouth remains closed.

TECHNIQUE
• Inhale deeply and make a sound from the neck via the nose similar to the humming of a bee. Then simulate the sound of humming through the neck.
• Keep the continuation of hum¬ming as long as possible depending on the capacity of containing the breath.
• Do not continue making an .... un... un... un... sound unnecessarily if the breath gets exhausted. Keep the sound neither too high nor too low depending on the sound produced in your neck and bring the sound out through the nose.

BENEFITS
By performing both these Pranayamas the speeds of blood circulations increases and these are also helpful in reducing the pain.

SHAVASANA
• Lie down with the face up on the wooden bench.
• Relax the body.
• Keep both the fists open, legs a little relaxed and widespread.
• Now listen to the beating of the heart.
• Remain a witness of the inhalation as well as exhalation.
• Create a feeling that your body is peaceful, composed and completely diseasefree.
• In this manner, without the movement of any part of the body, remaining fully composed having no restlessness of any type, go deep into mentally quiet attitude.

NOTE
If you are feeling uncomfortable while doing Yoga Asanas by yourselves, do not push yourself. It will be helpful to actually sign up for some Yoga Classes where a professional teacher will guide you through each Asana and will make sure that you are doing the exercise correctly.


Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna
Aum Shanti