CHENNAI: Spine health is a major concern in today’s life. Being essential to the central nervous system, good spinal health is crucial for you as it controls some of the body’s vital functions. The spine provides structural support to your body and helps you maintain an upright posture. However, your spine may get damaged or distorted due to improper habits like sitting for hours in front of the computer, slouching or standing for long periods of time. The symptoms may show up as numbness, pain, uncontrolled or painful extremities, impaired digestion, and breathing difficulty.
The good news is that most spine issues can be fixed with the practice of yoga. Regular practice of yoga can help you keep your spine strong and flexible as well as avoid the effects of ageing. Consistent practice and application of yoga can result in improved posture and a better sense of balance, with the head, shoulders and pelvis in proper alignment. Good posture and proper alignment help maintain the natural curvature of the spine, which is an important aspect of reducing or avoiding lower back pain.
Yoga is one of the most effective practices for maintaining good spine health. The ancient practice helps to strengthen and stretch muscles that support your back and spine, like the paraspinal muscles that help you bend, the multifidus muscles that stabilise the vertebrae and the transverse abdominis muscle in the abdomen, which also helps stabilise the spine.
Another aspect of yoga is that it increases your body awareness. Performing yoga encourages you to think about your body and its movements. This gives you a better sense of what sort of movements may cause pain or injury against movements that can improve strength and flexibility.
Here are some yoga poses you can practise to keep your body supple by increasing flexibility, fluidity, strength and health of your spine.
Sarpasana or Snake Pose
Lie on your stomach with your legs and feet together.
Place your chin on the floor and interlock your fingers, resting the hands on your buttocks.
As you inhale, lift the head and chest, raising your arms and extending them toward your feet.
Hold for several breaths.
Exhale to lower.
Setubandhasana or Bridge Pose
Lie on your back and bend your knees, bringing the feet near the buttocks and maintaining a hip-width distance.
Place your arms alongside your body with the palms facing the ground. Before coming into the backbend, exhale and tilt the tailbone toward the pubic bone to flatten your lower back.
Inhale and lift your hips; touch your chest to the chin without bringing your chin down, supporting your body weight with the shoulders, arms and feet. Stay in the pose for a minute.
Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose
Lie on your stomach with your legs and feet together. Place your forehead on the floor and your hands next to the chest with your fingers spread wide.
Inhale and lift the head and chest without putting pressure on the hands.
Lift your hands an inch off the floor to further challenge back strength.
Hold for several breaths. Exhale.
Ardha Shalabhasana or Half Locust Pose
Lie on your stomach and interlock the fingers underneath the pelvis.
Straighten your arms and place your chin on the ground. Inhale and slowly raise one leg, ensuring the pelvis is not twisted.
Exhale and slowly lower; then switch legs.
Repeat these movements for at least two minutes on each side.
Virabhadrasana I or Warrior I
Start in Tadasana or Mountain pose.
Step the left foot back 3 to 4 feet and turn the toes out 45 degrees.
Inhale and extend the arms up.
Exhale and bend the right knee to a ninety-degree angle.
Stay in this pose for several breaths; then repeat on the other side.
While yoga is a great way to enhance the strength and flexibility of your spine, it should never cause numbness, tingling or pain. If you’re just starting with your yoga practice, it is always advisable to seek the help of a professional to get the best results. (The writer is the chief yoga officer at Jindal Naturecure Institute)