Udayavni Special

Yoga postures & Pranayama for the overall well-being of the body


Team Udayavani, Jun 21, 2021, 8:00 AM IST

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Currently, we are living in an unprecedented time and in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. This has impacted not only our mental and physical wellbeing but our overall lifestyle.

As the saying goes that ‘things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.’ The best way to turn this pandemic panic, lockdown, and social distancing are to make the best of this situation instead of worrying.

Yoga is a powerful tool for brain stilling which helps in overcoming the stress of uncertainty, improves mental and physical wellbeing. During the pandemic, yoga’s popularity grew stronger across the world and more than ever before people are accepting yoga as an important wellness tool. It gives multiple benefits to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health, and here we have given you a few yoga poses and Pranayama practices that can help you get through this stressful time.

Yoga is a definite answer to eliminate the growing anxiety and uncertainty of the future. It helps us to keep ourselves fit mentally, emotionally, and physically to face the existing situation head-on. There are various asanas that help various senses along with giving immense benefits like improved concentration, flexibility, reduce stress, body strength, and alleviate some diseases such as asthma and diabetes.

Some Yoga Poses and Breathing Practices for Wellbeing:

Vrikshasana (tree pose)

Develops physical and mental balance, stabilizes the Pelvis and Core, develops strength in the muscles of ankle, feet, and legs, stretches the spine & abdominal muscles, and Improves the Body posture.

How to perform it:

  • Stabilize the hips and pelvis, Keep the body tall.
  • Take a moment to feel both your feet root into the floor with your weight distributed equally on all four corners of each foot.
  • Ground the right foot in the Mat, bend the left knee, and place the sole of the foot-high onto your inner right thigh.
  •  Begin to shift your weight into your right foot, keep your right leg straight but don’t lock the knee.
  • Place both hands in prayer position in front of the chest, then slowly raise the arms extending them overhead. Palms together.
  • Pull the navel up & back.
  • Maintain this pose for 5 respirations. Then come back to the standing (Tadasana) posture and repeat to another side.

Please note: In the beginning, you may find it difficult to place your leg above the knee, so you can place it below the knees but never place it on the knee.

Contraindications: Avoid if you are suffering from migraines, high or low blood pressure, and insomnia.

Uttihita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Strengthens the legs, knees, ankles, arms, and chest, Stretches and opens the hips, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest, and spine, Increases mental and physical balance, helps improve digestion, Tone the side muscles of the Trunk and waist. Reduces anxiety, stress, back pain, and sciatica.

How to perform it:

  • Step back heels in line, keep the body tall, heel/toe should have approx. 3.5 – 4 ft apart.
  • Extend both knees and turn the right foot out to the right side, vertical with the left and Core Lock (Tighten the abdomen).
  • Inhale, Bring both arms at the level of the shoulder heights, palms facing down.
  • Exhale, side bend to the right (do not rotate the body forward), slide the right hand down the in-front of the right leg and place it on the right heel or side/near. Reach the left arm up to the sky , palm facing forward.
  • Maintain this pose for 5 respirations. Inhale. Straighten yourself and stand erect. Repeat the posture on the other side.

Contraindications: Avoid doing this pose if you are suffering from migraine, diarrhea, low or high blood pressure, or neck and back injuries.

Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)

Strengthens the spine, keeps it strong, healthy, and flexible, Gives a good stretch to your neck, shoulder, chest, lungs, and abdomen, Enhances the functioning of abdominal organs such as kidney and liver, Useful for people suffering from back pain, slipped disc, sciatica and cervical spondylitis.

How to perform it:

  • Lie flat on your stomach keeping your legs straight, feet together, heels slightly touching each other and toes pointing.
  • Rest the palm of your hands by the side of your chest, your arms must be close to your body with elbows pointing outward.
  • Rest your forehead on the floor and relax your body.
  • Inhale and raise your forehead, neck, and then shoulders.
  • Using your back muscles raise your chest, now use the strength of your arms to raise your trunk. Look upward breathing normally.
  • In the final position, your navel should not raise more than 3cm; with your pubic bones touching the floor. Hold this position breath.
  • To come back to starting position first exhale and then slowly lower your navel, chest, shoulders, neck, and forehead.

Contraindications: Avoid if you are suffering from severe knee pain, had recent surgery if you are pregnant.

Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

Relieves tension in your neck, throat, and shoulders. Stretches and tones the front of your neck and abdominals. Stretches and stimulates the organs of your belly and throat. Strengthens the upper back and the back of your neck. Beneficial for reproductive organs.

How to perform it:

  • Sleep on the back, elbows, forearms flat on the mat, and upper arms perpendicular to the floor.
  • Keep the forearms in place and puff up the chest by rolling the shoulders back and tucking the shoulder blades firmly onto your back.
  • You should feel your body creating a backend.
  • Press your palms into the mat. You can tuck your hands under your butt if that feels like a more stable position for them.
  • Lower the crown (very top) of your head back until it comes to the floor, opening your throat.
  • Keep your legs engaged and your toes active throughout. Be in the pose for 5 breaths.
  • Take the support of your hand and raise your head off the floor. Then release your upper body to the mat.

Contraindications: Avoid people suffering from high blood pressure, heart diseases, hernia or ulcers. Should be avoided during menstruation and pregnancy.

Savasana (Corpse Pose)

This pose leaves you in the meditative state of rest, it calms the mind, helps reduces stress, blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia. Calms central nervous system, aiding the digestive and immune system, Promotes spiritual awakening and awareness of higher consciousness.

How to perform it:

  • Lie faceup on your back legs extended, feet are relaxed hip-width apart, arms are beside the body, palms facing up.
  • The head and spine are in a straight line.
  • Close your eyes and relax your mind with abdominal breath (3 deep breath-inhalation, exhalation, then come back to normal breathing)
  • Hold the pose for 5-8 mins before you conclude your practice.

Pranayama

 

Helps to solve breathing issues, anxiety, and stress. Pranayama is known as one of the best practices to improve lung functioning.

Kapalbhati is one of the Pranayama practices which brings a state of light or clarity to the frontal region of the brain also known as Kapalashodhana, the word shodhana means to purify. Regular practice of this will benefit your health in multiple ways, improves immunity power, Cardiovascular health,  weight loss, slow the aging process, improve digestion, dealing with stress-related disorders, and mainly intended to clear the sinuses within the skull.

How to perform it:

  • Sit in any comfortable Meditative Posture (Sukhasana, Vajrasana or in the Chair)
  • Keep your spine straight and close your eyes.
  • Place your palms on your knees, facing upward (Chin Mudra/Dyana Mudra).
  • Deeply Exhale completely.
  • Inhale (passive breath in) through nostrils and exhale forcefully (Active breath out), pulling your navel in toward your spine-allowing your belly to forcefully expel all the air from the diaphragm and lungs by compressing it.
  • As you relax the navel and abdomen, your breath will flow into your lungs automatically.
  • Continue for 30 breaths to complete one round and relax keeping your eyes closed.
  • Keep your awareness of your body.
  • If you are a beginner start with 30*3 counts, gradually with practice you can increase the number of breaths.

Contraindication: Kapalbhati should not be practiced by those suffering from heart-related issues, high blood pressure, vertigo, epilepsy, stroke, hernia, or gastric ulcer.

Nadishodhana

It is a calming Pranayama practice to integrate IDA Nadi and Pingala Nadi. Alternate Nostril Breathing is a beautiful breathing technique that helps to keep the mind calm, happy, and peaceful by just practicing it for few minutes. It also helps to release accumulated tension and fatigue. It also helps to clear out the blocked energy channels in the body, which in turn calms the mind.

How to perform it:

  • Sit in any comfortable Meditative Posture.
  • Keep your spine straight and close your eyes.
  • Bring the Right hand into Vishnu Mudra (thumb to the Right nostril, ring and little fingers to Left, index and middle finger folded and resting at the base of the thumb)
  • Exhale completely
  • Block the Right nostril and inhale through the left nostril
  • Release Right nostril and exhale
  • Block Left nostril and inhale Right,
  • Release Left nostril and exhale
  • This completes 1 full cycle
  • Practice for 4-5 mins

Contraindication: One with High Vata, heart-related issues, high anxiety or nervousness should not practice Nadi Shodhana with retentions. Avoid during menstruation, blocked sinuses, fever, flue, etc.

The world is feeling the need for Yogamore than ever owing to the pandemic. Practicing Yoga on daily basis will keep us and our loved ones connected, Happy, Healthy, and Safe!

(Written by Mrs. Shubha Shetty. The author is a certified yoga teacher and works in the HR department of The Manipal Group)

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