A modern lifestyle, in most cases, is sedentary. We tend to get so caught up with our office work that physical activity often takes a backseat. Medical evidence time and again shows the ill effects of prolonged sitting to our health and well-being. While we try and incorporate little changes like taking the stairs or eating healthier, it almost always gets back to square one the minute we lose motivation. Waking up for that early morning run or even hitting the gym post work seems far stretched.
Yoga, on the other hand, proves to be a more convenient form of exercising. You can practice the asanas anywhere - from your living room space to the community park of your colony. All you need is a mat to break into a posture, unlike other practices where a lot of importance rests on external weights or wearing the right gear. Yoga is about using your body weight against you in a process to make it fitter, stronger, healthier and more flexible. When you stretch and flex, breathe and hold, you feel a sense of awareness, as you awaken the untapped energy within your body that has been rusting (not resting!) all this while.
Long working hours and prolonged state of inactivity has lead to one of the biggest health woes of this age - back pain. Ever since I started working, I have experienced back pain that keeps resurfacing every now and then. Sometimes changing the chair helps or the sleeping position. I usually feel the pain at the back of my neck and at times it shifts to my rhomboids (a group of muscles located in the upper back).
This article aims to target that excruciating back pain that you just can't seem to get rid of. Back issues may arise due to a host of factors, but in most cases, it is usually wrong posture or lack of spinal exercises that may trigger the trouble. The answer to that discomfort in the back is a simple asana called the bridge pose or Setu Bandhasana.
The posture is excellent for strengthening the back. It also eases the pent up tension in those muscles. "Setu Bandhaasana is an excellent pose for melting stomach fat as it stretches the stomach muscles. The pose is great for people suffering from thyroid. As the chin and the chest are locked, the jalandhara bandha (chin lock) gets activated. It regulates the flow of blood and prana (energy) to the heart, the glands in the neck and the head," says a Delhi-based Yoga expert, Anju Kalhan of Vivafit fitness center.
The advanced version: should be done under supervision
How to Get into the Pose
1. Lye on the mat with your back on the floor.
2. Draw your feet inwards towards the hips.
3. Your feet should be parallel to each other.
4. Knees should not be pointing outwards.
5. Now lift yourself up with your stomach going towards the ceiling along with your back, hip and thighs.
6. Chin and chest should be locked.
7. You can either keep your hands sideways or engage them in supporting your back. You can also clasp them under your back and stretch. Inhale while going up, hold, exhale while coming down. Breathe normally in case you are holding the pose for long.
"A variation could be achieved by taking the support of your elbow. The posture also helps in fortifying your shoulder and back muscles. If you want to take it a notch up, try doing it on a single leg. You can play around with the distance at which you keep your feet to make the posture easier or more intense. Bridge Pose is often done as a counter-pose to the Sirshasana (headstand), Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) and Halasana (Plow Pose)," said Ms. Kalhan.
Benefits of Setu Bandhasana
Yogacharya Anoop recommends the bridge pose to be specifically beneficial for spinal and brain related ailments. Its regular practice can also aid in treating mood swings, depression, heaviness in the head, migraine, and anxiety disorders among others. As you lift your hip up, the urinary tract and the rectus get squeezed. This ends up alerting certain areas in the brain. "When you practice this pose, you are lifting your body up with only your head and shoulders on the ground, this facilitates increased blood and oxygen flow to your brain via the spine, and therefore it is beneficial for both. It is one of the best poses to keep your spine and brain healthy" he noted.
"Setu Bandhasana is helpful in conditions like slipped disc or upper/lower back pain," shared Yogi Anoop. However, those who have undergone brain, back, neck, shoulder or spinal surgery should avoid this posture completely. People with severe slipped disc or blood pressure count above 90 diastolic should not attempt this pose. "Attempting this immediately after having a glass of warm water will help in treating constipation," shared Yogi Anoop.
Experts suggest alternating the bridge pose with the wind-relieving pose (also called Pawanmuktasana) to get maximum benefit for spinal and back-related issues. "Every pose should be followed by its counter pose for best results," shared Mr. Anoop.However, while doing Pawanmuktasana along with Setu Bandhasana, ensure that your head rests on the floor. "When you lift your head up while attempting the wind-relieving pose, the pressure is diverted to the neck. While doing this along with the bridge pose, your focus is on the back and the spine, therefore your head should remain on the floor," concluded Yogi Anoop.
According to experts, no pose when done in isolation will bear as much result as when it is done in tandem with other postures to target a particular body part. While Setu Bandhasana along with its counter pose Pawanmuktasana (wind-relieving pose) could help in strengthening your back, you should also combine it with other asanas as advised by your yoga instructor.
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