You are as young, as straight your back is…”
Most often when people exercise their focus is rarely on strengthening the back or the spine; it is generally to look slim for women and muscular for men. And therefore the essence is lost: the need for a strong back to take you forward and slow down the ageing process.
I receive countless mails from people, many in their late twenties early thirties, on back & spine related injuries, problems and even things like sciatica pain. And the irony is that the maximum incidence of back injuries is in those who claim to follow a fitness regime and spend hours in the gym.
A prerequisite for yoga is a strong spine. Spine, often called the second brain, holds the entire physical structure and controls reflexes in the body.
Here’s a seven-step guide to a straight, strong and supple spine.
Lie flat on the stomach, legs straight, heels together and in sleeping position, forehead and chin resting on the floor. This is the preparatory position, from which you move into each of the seven asanas. Each asana is to be repeated seven times, before moving to the next. The eyes remain shut and internal awareness is maintained.
Interlock your fingers and place the hands on the hips. Take a deep breath, stretch your arms backwards and raise your spine, shoulders and chest, keeping the head (facing down) parallel to the ground. Hold this posture for a count of seven. Exhaling, gently release and come down. People with heart conditions and high blood pressure must not strain while performing this asana.
Place your palms on the floor with arms stretched forward. Hold this posture for a count of seven pushing the abdomen into the floor. Breath follows natural rhythmic pattern, eyes are shut, awareness on the breath and the spinal column.
Interlock your fingers and place the palms onto the lower neck. Stretch and push the elbows into the ground. Hold this posture for a count of seven, maintaining natural rhythmic breath
Cup your chin with your palms, resting your elbows on the ground. When the elbows are stretched out and arms flat on the ground, tension is felt in the neck. If the elbows are drawn too close to the chest, tension is felt in lower back. Keep the elbows at a comfortable distance such that the two points are equally balanced and the whole spine is relaxed. Hold this posture for a count of seven, maintaining natural rhythmic breath.
While performing these asans, keep your eyes closed and synchronise the movement with your breath. If at any point, you feel uncomfortable or out of breath, stop the practice. The effect of the asanas becomes manifold when performed with certain mantras to activate the Sushumna Nadi. You may learn them at a Sanatan Kriya session in your city.
Yogi Ashwini is the Guiding Light of Dhyan Foundation and an authority on the Vedic Sciences. His book, ‘Sanatan Kriya, The Ageless Dimension’ is an acclaimed thesis on anti-ageing. Log onto to www.dhyanfoundation.com or mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for more