“Don’t stress too much, stay calm!” –  Haven’t you heard this phrase? I got tired of listening to this from various sources be it a doctor or a well-wisher or sometimes even a friend. I could never decode how not to be stressed when something goes wrong or when you are running on tight deadlines and so on. The concept of “Stress” has been in the limelight and as a clinical psychologist, I can recommend you to try the corpse pose to calm your mind and body. Continue to read to find out why it is important to turn to your right side while coming out of this posture.

While most of the Yoga asanas are meant to bring in mental as well as physical relaxation, Shava-asana or the Corpse Pose can be called the best of the lot. When broken down in Sanskrit words it means Corpse Pose and is also referred to as Mrtaasana retaining the essence of staying still as dead and allowing the body and soul to relax. 

Relax, Release, and Let Go!

It is often believed that the Corpse Pose is the easiest and needs little to no effort in mastering it. I would like to break that misconception as I found it hard to practice and found that many Yoga practitioners also felt the same way when they initially started practicing it. Shavasana is usually referred to as a form of meditation that is done after Yoga, exercise, or right before sleep. In a particular study that was conducted in the year 2009, a comparison was drawn between the effect of Cyclic Meditation (cyclic alterations of stimulating and relaxing the body parts) and an equal duration of Shavasana. Both of these are relaxation techniques and were assessed to study the effect and impact on a state of anxiety and performance in memory tasks. The results suggested that movement as a part of Cyclic Meditation enables performance in attention and memory tasks more than an equal duration of time in the Corpse Pose. However, conducting this study on participants residing at the Yoga Centre is considered a major drawback.

Follow these steps to get in the right posture for Shavasana

  1. Wear something comfortable and warm. You might want to drink a cup of hot tea if you like, before that. You cannot relax if you are feeling cold. So, prep yourself to stay warm. Feel 
  2. Spread the mat and lie down on your back. Alternatively, you could even lie on your bed, but it is recommended to lie on a flat surface with a mat or a blanket. Stay disconnected from phones or any other external disturbances. Silence the gadgets and set an alarm with a mild tune to just track your time.
  3. Keep your legs straight and let the feet fall on either side. It is not necessary to hold them stiff with toes facing upwards.
  4. Place your arms alongside your torso, not too close and not too far with your palms facing upwards. Try not to clench your fist and as you might retain the tension in your hands and around your neck. Relax your shoulders and jaw muscles too. 
  5. Keep the face-centered in alignment to the body and don’t let it fall on either side. 
  6. Once you are properly aligned, release any effort or tension in the body. Consciously feel a sense of gratitude towards each body part and feel every inch of your body by maintaining a focus between your eyebrows – the third eye or the mind’s eye. Silently thank each part of your body for helping you function the way you wish to and for carrying all your tension. Trust me, it works!
  7. Stay relaxed with a natural breathing style in this pose for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes, to begin with. Gradually you could extend to even a 20-minute window. 
  8. To release the pose, it is necessary to reawaken your body from stillness. With your eyes still closed try to wiggle your toes and fingers and stretch your legs and hands.
  9. While trying to get up and sit, it is always recommended to roll to your right side first and take support of your left hand to sit up. Rolling to your right side will reduce the pressure on the heart which is on the left side, leaving it open and free for the blood flow after Shavasana. Rub your palms and place them on your eyes and feel the warmth on your face. Now slowly open your eyes to a fresh state.

Modifications and Variations 

Though Shavasana appears like a short nap that one would take to relax the body, it is much more complicated when practiced. It demands you to stay consciously awake while being still and completely relaxed. After a small research, the common challenges faced in mastering this pose are detailed below.

A gush of thoughts!

It is easier to stay silent without talking than to silence your mind inside. A gush of thoughts has always been the biggest challenge for any individual who tries to practice any form of meditation. Especially the ones which are troublesome and uncomfortable. The moment you close your eyes to relax, your mind finds it restrictive and pops up different situations or questions and continues to work even harder. A 2010 study in which an iPhone app collected  responses from 2,250 adults worldwide revealed that almost half of  your thoughts have nothing to do with what’s going on at any given moment. The data also exhibited that people tended to be less happy when their thoughts did not bring with their actions.

The best way to handle this situation is to let your thoughts flow. Never try to restrict your ideas or feelings or thoughts running in your mind. The more you push yourself to avoid thinking the harder it gets, and you might even feel stressed instead of relaxing. Just like an ebbing river, the waves need to strike hard initially to find the calmness deep inside. Just go with the flow, it takes time but it will become better!

Physical Pain

Tuning our physical body to align with the calm state of the mind could be stressful if you have any prior concerns such as lower back pain, spondylitis, disc replacement surgery, etc. I found it hard to lie flat on my back due to lower back pain and was only focusing on the pain I was experiencing rather than achieving a relaxed state of mind. It is recommended to listen to your body and address pain if any while trying to perform the Corpse Pose. Try placing a pillow under your knees, to comfort your back and handle pain. If you are experiencing discomfort in the neck, slightly elevated with the help of a folded towel or a small cushion. Try to cover your eyes with an eye-pad if you find the light around you too harsh. Untie your hair, if you have a ponytail, and keep it open to avoid that prickly sense of a hair accessory while lying flat. 

Note that the smallest of physical discomfort could appear humongous while you try to relax. You might notice certain body parts will start itching, just breathe and repose. Everything is fine, this is your time.  

Sleepiness 

If you are totally relaxed physically and mentally, then you are halfway through mastering the challenging Corpse Pose. But here awaits the biggest challenge, you tend to doze off or start feeling sleepy. The Corpse Pose needs you to stay still and calm but remain consciously awake. Try to variate the breath by increasing and decreasing the pace and stay focused on that pattern to meditate and relax consciously. 

Benefits of Corpse Pose

Even during therapy sessions, I usually can perceive how difficult it is for my patients to calm down. This Asana can be a solution for a stressed mind. The Corpse Pose brings the body to homeostasis (a balanced state between the physiological and biochemical paths maintaining the stability between the physical and emotional levels). It is like rebooting your entire system and making it more productive and capable in this competent world. Let us understand some of the benefits of Corpse Pose.

  • Attaining a balance physically and mentally helps in the regular and harmonious functioning of body organs.
  • Regular practice of the Corpse Pose tends to improve the overall immunity of the body.
  • Helps to lower Blood Pressure.
  • Conscious breathing supports better functioning of the lungs.
  • Taking time to let the thoughts flow and to reflect thoughts on your inner self, help you to keep stress and anxiety at bay.
  • Helps you sustain your good mood as it releases the feel-good neurochemicals.
  • Physical alignment always aids in improving the posture over a period.

There are long-term mental health benefits too when you combine your exercise routine with the Corpse Pose as mindful meditation. In 2016, a study was conducted on people with clinical depression, and a massive improvement was noticed in their symptoms when they meditated for 30 minutes before using the treadmill twice a week for eight weeks.

It’s not easy to lie down, relax the breath, and silence the chatter in the mind. But disciplining the mind and body after a demanding activity builds resilience. Over time your results will get better, be patient, and don’t give up.

Srilakshmi and Dr. Rai

Viparita Karani is classified as a form of Kaya yoga mudra. Kaya mudras means Asanas, pranayama, and concentration are all combined.

Kaya mudra combines the entire body with breathing and concentration practice to create asana, unlike ordinary yoga hand mudras. 

Viparita means “reverse” in Sanskrit, while Karani denotes “an action to complete a task.” Viparita Karani denotes the “action of reversing” when summarising the meanings of root words. The flow of energy is reversed in Viparita Karani Mudra by reversing action.

Viparita Karani mudra is comparable to other inverted yoga poses like Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) and Sirsasana (Headstand). 

 Here is an example of client Mr. Iyengar, who has been advised to practice a deep Viparita Karani as “natural dhyana.” According to Patanjali, Dhyana is the seventh of the Eight Limbs and can be translated as “meditation.”

Meaning Of Viparita Karani

In hatha yoga, Viparita Karani, legs up the wall pose, is both an asana and a mudra (a seal done by your hands and fingers). It’s usually a completely supported pose using a wall and sometimes a pile of blankets (used to support the buttocks during the inverted position) in modern yoga as a workout. 

According to Hatha yoga experts, this inverted balance exercise was created to bring inner harmony and union of opposites, such as the bloodstreams (arterial and venous), nerve impulses, through the use of gravity.

The natural erect body position is turned into a reversed position in Viparita Karani Mudra, where hands support the spine at a 60-degree angle. The ‘head down, legs up’ position allows fluids to flow back.

Mr. Iyengar said in 2005 in Estes Park, Colorado, when describing the historical significance of Viparita Karani:

“According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, all inversions are Viparita Karani. It includes even Sirsasana. But, according to one statement, [this] is Viparita Karani when the buttocks are somewhat down below the trunk. Viparita Karani is said to be halfway between Halasana (Plow Pose) and Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand).”

Furthermore

This asana is a revitalizing and restorative asana that calms and energizes both the body and mind. It’s a shoulder stand inversion that’s similar to Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand). The difference between the two Asanas is that in Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand), you don’t use a wall. Instead, you use your hands and arms to keep and hold yourself in that inverted position.

This asana is good for calming and soothing the nervous system. The spirit of letting go is taught in this restorative position can also be applied to vigorous asana practice.

As a result, all inversions, such as Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand), Sirsasana (Headstand), and Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand), are Viparita Karani postures. When people talk about the historical benefits of the pose, they’re usually talking about all prolonged inversions (holding the inverted posture for a long time).

Viparita Karani Pose Breakdown

Because Viparita Karani Mudra is a restorative pose, many people choose to execute it with props like pillows, bolsters, and folded blankets. You can start by selecting a prop that meets your needs and then following the procedures outlined below.

  • Select an open area near the wall and sit so that your feet are flat on the ground and perfectly spread out in front of you. Make sure your left side of the body hits the wall as well.
  • Exhale deeply and lie down flat on your back. Turn the soles of the feet upwards while keeping the back of the legs firmly against the wall. In order to settle down and to be comfortable in such a pose, you may need to move around a little to make minor adjustments.
  • Place your buttocks slightly away from the wall or gently press them against it.
  • Maintain a resting position for your head and back on the floor. Keep your body at a 90-degree angle.
  • Place a prop under your hips. Should you be on a tight budget, you can use your hands to hold your hips and create a curve around your lower body.
  • Maintain a neutral position for your neck and head, and relax your face and throat.
  • Close your eyes and take a deep breath. For around ten minutes, stay in this position.
  • After that, let go and roll to one side. As you sit up, take a few deep breaths.

A Detailed Explanation

Do not get confused yet. Here’s a detailed explanation. 

STEP 1: 

Determine two factors regarding your support before completing the pose: its height and its distance from the wall. By the way, make sure that the wall is clean. There shouldn’t be any spider webs or other crawling thingies.

If you’re more rigid, use lower support that’s farther away from the wall; if you’re more flexible, use a higher support that’s closer to the wall. 

Your height also determines your distance from the wall. If you’re shorter, come closer to the wall, and if you’re taller, move further away. Experiment with your support’s position until you find one that works best for you.

STEP 2 :

Start around 5 to 6 inches (13 – 15 cm) away from the wall with your support. Sit on the right end of the support, with your right side against the wall (left-handed people can use “left” instead of “right” in these directions). 

Exhale and throw your legs up against the wall and your shoulders and head down onto the floor in one fluid motion. And if you can’t keep your legs together, use a yoga band to support your legs.

You may slide off the support and plump-down down with your buttocks on the floor the first few times you attempt this. Don’t be disheartened. 

Reduce the support’s height and/or move it further away from the wall until you’re comfortable with it, then return it to its original position.

STEP 3:

Your sitting bones don’t have to be flush against the wall; they only need to be in the area between the support and the wall. 

Make sure your body arches slightly from the pubis to the tops of your shoulders. You’ve definitely slipped a little off the support if the front of your body appears flat. 

Slowly bend your knees, gently press your feet against the wall, and lift your pelvic a few inches off the support. Tuck the support a bit higher up under your pelvis, and then drop your pelvis back onto the support.

STEP 4:

Soften your throat by lifting and releasing the base of your head away from the rear of your neck. Instead of pressing your chin into your sternum, elevate your sternum toward the chin. 

If your cervical spine seems flat, place a tiny roll (made from a blanket, for example) beneath your neck. 

Release your wrists and arms out to the sides, palms up, and open your shoulder blades away from your spine.

STEP 5:

Maintain a tight grip on your legs, just enough to keep them vertically in place. 

Deeply inside your body, toward the back of the pelvis, release the heads of your thigh bones and the weight of your belly. 

STEP 6:

This stance can be held for 5 to 15 minutes. When removing the support, be careful not to twist it. Instead, swivel to the side and slide off the support onto the floor. 

To elevate your pelvis off the support, bend your knees and push your feet against the wall. Put the support to one side, if possible lower your pelvis to the ground, and turn to the side. 

Stay on your side for a few minutes before exhaling and rising to your feet.

Follow the procedure mentioned to relax your eyes. Rub your palms together to become warm and place warm palms on your closed eyes. I am sure you will find the warmth to be very relaxing.

Preparatory Poses For Viparita Karani

  • Virasana 
  • Uttanasana 
  • Setu bandha sarvangasana 
  • Supta baddha konasana

Modifications And Variations

Arm Variations

You can hold your arms in a variety of ways. Experiment with them to discover how they affect you. What you want today could not be the same as tomorrow.

  • As in Savasana, place your arms at your sides.
  • With your palms up, extend your arms straight out to your sides.
  • Cactus arms (also known as Stick’ Em Up arms) have upper arms straight out from shoulders, elbows bent 90 degrees, and the backs of the forearms on the ground.
  • With your arms on the ground, hold your elbows overhead.
  • Place your palms on your stomach, or place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach.

For Sacrum Joint Pain Relief

The sacroiliac joints connect your pelvis and lower spine. The sacrum (the bony structure above your tailbone and below your lower vertebrae) and the top part (ilium) of your pelvis make up these structures.

Set up for the posture by placing a yoga bolster, folded blanket, yoga block, or even a cushion under your hips to support your sacrum fully. 

Rest your bottom hip on the prop as you enter the posture, with the prop parallel to the wall. Turn onto your back and lift your legs to the wall.

Relax your legs once you’ve got them up the wall, so they’re heavy in your hips. This will aid in the ‘release’ of your pelvis, allowing for a small amount of space on either side of your sacrum.

For Tight Hamstrings

Resting your legs against the wall can be challenging. Move your hips away from the wall to make the pose more accessible. The stretch to your hamstrings is reduced as a result of the decrease in hip flexion.

If you have a yoga strap, make a huge loop with it and wrap it around your legs. This will allow you to stretch your legs and press into the strap for support.

Can’t Keep Legs Straight For More Than 5 Mins?

Take a chair and place it against the wall, with the back of the chair touching the wall. Instead of leaning against the wall, rest the backs of your legs on the chair’s seat, with your hips extended to around 90 degrees.

For More Relaxation

You can relax more deeply without your legs slipping apart if you use a yoga strap across your thighs. Wrap the strap over your thighs or around your calf muscles, right above your knees. Try both and discover which one allows you to relax the most.

Do one of the following to get into the strap pose:

  • Before swinging your legs up the wall, wrap the strap over your legs.
  • Hook the strap over one leg, then put the other leg through the loop after you’ve brought your legs up the wall.

For Pregnant Women

To make a V-shape with your legs, wrap a yoga strap around your ankles. This may necessitate tying two straps together. This wide-leg version gives you extra room to unwind.

You don’t have to be pregnant to accomplish this variation, of course. It’s a great one for all ages!

For Unsteady Legs

Place your feet on the wall and bend your knees. Gently push your upper body away from the wall with your feet until you can lower your pelvis to the ground and rest your feet flat on the wall.

While practicing Viparita Karani, this version might also assist in reducing leg tingling.

Different Legs Versions You Can Try

You can undertake various leg variations, such as bringing your feet together in Baddha Konasana (Cobbler’s Pose). As in Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Stance Forward Bend) or Upavista Konasana (sitting upright with the legs as wide apart as possible, spread your legs wide).

Experiment with different leg variations to see what works best for you.

Precautions Before Performing Viparita Karani

  • Make sure your bowels are empty before beginning Viparita Karani.
  • If you have already eaten, maintain a 6-hour interval between your practice and your food if you are doing Viparita Karani for an extended period.
  • This inversion pose should be avoided when you have high blood pressure, heart illness, or thyroid difficulties.
  • Always exit the stance slowly.

Props For Modifications

A strap and a small sandbag are two typical props for Viparita Karani, in addition to a pillow or blanket for assistance. 

You can tighten the strap around your thighs, slightly above the knees, after you’re in the pose. The belt will keep your legs in position, enabling you to relax your legs.

It’s a little more challenging to get the sandbag in place. Bend your knees and glide your feet down the wall, keeping your ankles extended and your soles perpendicular to the ceiling until you’re in the pose. 

Lay the bag across your soles (or heels) as best you can, then straighten your knees and deliberately push the bag toward the ceiling. The weight on the legs helps to relieve lower back stress.

Taking A Partner’s Help

A companion can also assist you in grounding the thigh bones’ heads into the wall. As you complete the posture, have her/him stand next to you. 

She/he should next lean forward and wrap her/his arms around your front thighs, right above the pelvic joint. 

She/he should bring the thighs closer to the wall on your inhale and hold them firmly against the wall as you release the front torso away from the thighs on your exhale. 

Rep for a few more breaths.

Best Time To Practice

Viparita Karani, like other inverted yoga postures, is best practiced first thing in the morning after bowel movements and a shower. 

The body’s metabolic and other functions are already at their height throughout the day. In this situation, reversing the body’s natural flow will have more negative consequences than benefits.

However, after 3 hours of a decent lunch, it is possible to do it in the afternoon. It should also begin after a 10-minute break in Shavasana.

Tips For Beginners

As a beginner, you may find it difficult to achieve proper alignment in this pose. You must breathe in such a way that the heads of your thigh bones are firmly pressed against the wall for this to work. 

It will aid in the release of your spine and stomach. Imagine the inhale passing through your torso and forcing the thigh bones’ heads against the wall. 

Allow your thigh bones to press harder against the wall and your body to draw away from the wall as you exhale each time.

This position might serve as a useful substitute for Savasana, particularly for newbies who have trouble relaxing. 

It’s also a fantastic replacement for anyone, regardless of where they are on their yoga path. Legs Up the Wall Pose has many of the same advantages as Savasana, plus a few more.

Benefits Of Viparita Karani

Viparita Karani is thought to be beneficial for almost anything that ails you, according to modern teachers, including:

Physical Benefits

  • This position softly stretches our hamstrings and opens up space in our low back. Elevating our legs may improve circulation and allow any excess fluid to escape. 
  • This posture may be very beneficial for people who suffer from edema or sciatica. Furthermore, after a long day at work, this pose can feel fantastic because it eliminates achiness in your feet, legs, and low back, making it a powerful pose.
  • This pose may increase the release of digestive fluids, which helps indigestion. An increase in appetite is also possible.
  • In obese people, increased metabolism in body cells can reduce fat around the waist.
  • When the head is turned upside down, cellular fluid that has accumulated in lower body parts enters the circulation.
  • It may protect from atherosclerosis by restoring vascular tone and flexibility (a condition of fats, cholesterol, and other substances accumulation in artery walls).
  • It can aid in the relief of a minor backache.
  • Stretches the back of the neck, legs, front chest, and pelvis gently.
  • According to a study, inversion postures such as Viparita Karani strengthen the heart muscle, improving circulation and a lower risk of heart disease.
  • Viparita Karani is a good treatment for cerebral insufficiency and senile dementia because it can enhance blood flow to the brain.
  • On the other hand, modern professors claim that Viparita Karani can help with premenstrual syndrome, menopause, menstrual pains, and sleeplessness.
  • The thyroid gland is stimulated by the pressure applied around the throat muscles and chin in this mudra. It may bring the functions of a hypoactive thyroid back into equilibrium.

All In All 

We automatically begin activating the vagus nerve, commonly known as the ‘wandering nerve’ due to its path from the brain to the gut, by reclining in an inverted position and letting the respiration too slow.

When in an inverted pose the nervous system as a whole receives the message that it is secure to relax, and we are finally able to change from the fight or flight system, which is partially responsible for stress-related illnesses.

Moreover

Viparita Karani’s key physical benefits:

  • Allows you to relax your muscles.
  • It can aid in the relaxation of the neurological system, which may aid in the relief of anxiety.
  • It may make you feel less tired.
  • Many people find that being in this position allows them to relax profoundly, releasing tension and stress.
  • This is a fantastic passive pose for lengthening your hamstrings.
  • Relieves fatigued legs and feet (after a marathon, flight, long walk/hike, bike ride, or other strenuous activity).
  • Stretches glutes, hamstrings, and hip adductors if legs are apart.
  • The sciatic nerve is supported by the wall, which allows your legs to relax. This makes Viparita Karani a useful practice to do if your legs are fatigued, and it also helps relieve sciatica pressure.

Mental Benefits Of Viparita Karani

This posture’s mental benefits are what make it so amazing. In comparison, it is a simple position, but it is quite beneficial to our mind and body. Because this pose stretches our hamstrings and stimulates our sciatic nerve, it is thought to stimulate the muscles and provide a therapeutic feeling.

Similarly, we may slow our heart rate and relax our central nervous system by moving into this pose and including deep, steady breathing. This is the ideal posture to adopt when we are feeling pressured or overworked. Practicing this posture immediately before bedtime will also help you sleep better because it allows our bodies to relax and unwind.

When To Not Perform This Asana

The following are some of the adverse effects and precautions associated with practicing Viparita Karani:

  • High blood pressure: Folks with high blood pressure should avoid this yoga pose because it aggravates their condition.
  • Heart disease: Practicing Legs-up-the-Wall pose should be avoided if you have a heart ailment.
  • Thyroid issues: It should also be avoided by those who have an enlarged thyroid.
  • It is best to stay away from it during menstruation unless performed in the presence of an experienced yoga teacher (there are many contradictory theories surrounding the practice of this pose during menstruation).
  • Eye difficulties: It should not be done if someone has major eye problems, such as glaucoma.
  • If you have a neck injury, you should avoid it.
  • Back Issues: Only do it in the presence of an experienced yoga teacher if you have back problems.

The Science Of Viparita Karani Mudra

Viparita Karani Mudra is an energizing inversion that relieves the spine, legs, feet, and nervous system. 

The asana aids in achieving a state of complete relaxation. The benefit of this asana is that it may be performed regularly by any yoga student, regardless of their overall level of yogic expertise. Viparita Karani Mudra also aids in the relaxation of the mind and brain, allowing for better self-awareness.

Viparita Karani Mudra is usually done right before Shavasana since it has a powerful relaxing impact on the psyche. You can, however, practice Viparita Karani Mudra without making it a part of your normal yoga regimen.

Wrapping Up

Asana practice can be difficult. But when we put in the effort to master the postures and finally manage to keep our balance and position ourselves correctly, we usually feel a sense of success.

Spending time in any inversion is thought to help you achieve a meditative state.

Even if the rest of the world considers sitting still to be a waste of time, we know that being quiet and sitting with our thoughts is a wonderful method to calm our brains and broaden our life’s possibilities.

Your meditation practice doesn’t need to resemble that of others. So the next time you need to disconnect from the outside world, lie down with your legs up the wall and chant OM repeatedly, feel the power of breath.

Sumeet

Reviewed by Dr. Rai and Devina

We won’t be able to alter the entire world, but we can alter ourselves and fly like birds. We can be calm even in the midst of disasters, and by doing so, we may help others to be calm as well. Serenity spreads like a virus. When we grin at someone, he or she will return the smile. A smile, on the other hand, is free. We should inflict joy on everyone. Why not die happy and laughing if we just have a minute to live? ” (136-137) The Yoga Sutras, Swami Satchidananda

Many people refer to the ‘Yoga Sutras’ without knowing where they came from. The question of “who wrote the yoga sutra?” has sparked significant debate, with the conclusion still out. This collection of 195 sutras or words of wisdom, compiled by the revered ancient sage Patanjali, is the foundation of classical or raja yoga.

Yoga is the integration of body, mind, spirit, and soul in its purest form. According to Yoga, we struggle from the delusion of separation between our own awareness and Universal Consciousness, or Brahman. The Yoga Sutras provide practical guidance to remembering that oneness on your spiritual journey.

Yoga encompasses far more than just asanas. Even when life gets wild, the sutras teach us how to be our genuine selves and embrace every moment.

The Story Of Patanjali – The Mythical Version

Once upon a time, all the Munis and Acharyas came to Lord Vishnu to tell him that even though He (incarnated as Lord Dhanvanthari) had provided them with the skills to treat illnesses through Ayurveda, people continued to be ill. 

They began to wonder what to do if someone became ill. It’s not always just a physical illness that has to be addressed; sometimes, it’s also a mental and emotional illness. How can one purge impurities such as wrath, desire, greed, and envy from one’s life? What is the formula for success?

Lord Vishnu was resting on his snake-infested bed, which included the 1000-headed serpent Adishésha. When the Sadhus addressed Him, He gave them Adishésha (the symbol of awareness), who became Maharishi Patanjali and lived in the world. As a result, Patanjali came to this world to impart yoga knowledge, which became known as the Yoga Sutras. The Puranas do not explain; it is up to us to figure out what the hidden meaning is.

Story Of Patanjali – A Theoretical Version

We don’t have a lot of information on Patanjali himself. His life is thought to have taken place during the first and fourth centuries of the Common Era. 

He penned the sutras in a style known as “Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit,” rather than traditional Sanskrit, indicating a Buddhist presence. The Yoga Sutras’ author was most likely not a half-man, half-multi-headed serpent.

That was a different Patanjali, a legendary god; yet, the two have been confused at times, such as in the Iyengar and Ashtanga practices’ beginning invocations.

According to the history of the work, many of our understandings of the Yoga Sutras have been filtered through multiple commentators on the original verses.

The Yoga Sutras, written approximately 2,000 years ago, are considered one of the most important yogic writings. It’s possible you’ve seen it on your local studio’s bookshelves, on the study guide for teacher training, or heard it mentioned in class. However, it is frequently veiled in mystery. 

So, what’s the big deal? Are Patanjali’s yoga sutras still applicable today? Is it possible to make a difference by adhering to its principles? What do yoga sutras say? Let’s explore more about the legendary ancient texts, i.e., PATANJALI YOGA SUTRAS.

What Is The Central Idea Of The Yoga Sutras?

Sankhya is one of the oldest Indian philosophical systems. It teaches that the way to enlightenment is knowledge. Patanjali’s greatest contribution to the world was that he translated this profound—yet solely intellectual—philosophy into a format that the average spiritual seeker could understand and apply. A map to help you on your path to enlightenment.

We don’t know exactly what Patanjali was trying to say. Many people have interpreted and commented on his Yoga Sutras through the years. The sage Patanjali offered yogis ashtanga yoga, often known as the eight limbs of yoga, a long time ago. This corpus of knowledge describes how to educate the body, mind, and senses for spiritual advancement in natural evolution. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is the name of the system described in this collection of maxims.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are not the first nor the only ancient text on yoga. They provide a system for achieving self-realization. Although nothing is known about Patanjali himself, many think he lived between 500 and 200 B.C. He was also thought to be an enlightened soul who returned in human form to assist others in overcoming their afflictions.

Patanjali’s wisdom is contained in 196 turns of phrase or deep truth maxims. The aphorisms provide an unending source of insight and a step-by-step route to enlightenment for the spiritually unawakened. While each word is short, it provides an unlimited field for thought and debate when combined with the others. This is why intellectuals and yogis continue to analyze and examine Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras today.

In essence, the Yoga Sutras organize contemporary philosophical ideas into a fundamental structure. Sutra is the Sanskrit word for thread, and each sutra symbolizes one thread in the rich and complicated tapestry of yoga. Contemplation, Practice, Accomplishments, and Absoluteness are the four sections that tie the threads throughout. They explain the philosophy of yoga, the practical ways for obtaining enlightenment, the development of divine capabilities as a result of practice, and the nature of final emancipation and the ultimate self.

What Do Patanjali’s Yoga Su-tras Tell Us?

You might expect the Yoga Sutras to spell out a sequence of poses to release the body and mind, but the sole mention of asana (physical practice) in the actual text is that you should be seated comfortably. Not exactly what you’d expect from a yoga book! So, how can this text omit poses or postures if it is presenting the essence of yoga? To address this, it’s better to start with the second sutra of the first book, where Patanjali defines yoga.

Yoga is referred to as “citta vritti nirodhah.” This translates to: ‘yoga is the restraint of the mind-stuff alterations.’ Perhaps not quite what you were hoping for. This suggests that yoga is a discipline that calms the mind’s (sometimes turbulent) fluctuations. We may be able to see more precisely if we can reduce the impact of these mental disturbances or calm the turbulent, noisy nature of the thinking mind. We can build a more accurate view of the nature of reality and ourselves within it by seeing more clearly, and thus discover a more profound sense of calm.

Yoga, according to Patanjali, is a mental science. First and foremost, yoga’s origins may be traced back to psychology and philosophy before becoming a physical practice. Yoga, in its purest form, allows us to ponder profound issues about the nature of awareness. We might begin a journey away from the pressures and sufferings of daily life by learning to cultivate a certain contemplative awareness – not to the point of insanity, but with a desire to make objective observations of oneself – according to Patanjali’s yoga.

Yoga And Samkhya

Both Samkhya and Yoga are Dualistic theories that accept the distinction between Spirit (Purusha) and Matter (Karma) (Prakriti). 

Redemption, which is the objective of both religions, occurs when a person is freed from the cycle of reincarnation by realizing that their Spirit is pure consciousness and so unattached to the physical world. 

This is accomplished in Samkhya by a process of intellectual investigation into the nature of matter, whereas Yoga achieves the same outcome through intense meditation.

Some ancient scriptures refer to Patanjali’s Yoga as Samkhya with Ishvara. Like many Sanskrit phrases in the Yoga Sutras, the word Ishvara can be construed in several different ways.

It could be a reference to God or a master or competent teacher. Fidelity to Ishvara is one of the necessary conditions for nirvana in the Yogic system, but not in Samkhya.

Theories And Techniques Of Yoga Sutra

The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali consists of an eight-fold path known as Ashtanga, which means “Eight Limbs,” that serves as a guide to living a meaningful and purposeful life.

The Yoga Sutras are not presented in chronological order. Rather, they are placed in a wheel-like circular pattern. The profundity of each of the four ‘Padas,’ or portions, varies. The wheel of depth moves deeper and deeper through the four Padas as one proceeds on the path to spirituality, resulting in an ultimate sensation of detachment.

The path from self-realization to ultimate self-realization is long and winding. However, the feeling of calm that frees oneself from earthly ties is found in the search for the ultimate self. This never-ending trip is where one might feel a sense of perfection that cannot be found anywhere else.

The Four Chapters Of Patanjali Sutras

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are divided into the following four chapters:

1. Samadhi pada: Defines yoga but is intended to help individuals who are near to achieving samadhi, or self-realization.

2, Sadhana pada: Describes the eight stages that must be followed to progress spiritually. This chapter is written for the average individual. 

Most yogis utilize the eightfold path as a guide for yogic life; therefore, it’s arguably the most essential of all the chapters. This encompasses ethical, moral behavior, asana, pranayama, sensory mastery, concentration, meditation, and self-realization, all of which are completed in this order.

3. Vibhuti Pada – The eight siddhis or supernatural powers that a yogi can obtain in the highest degrees of spiritual development are described and warned against in Vibhuti pada.

4. Kaivalya pada: Defines how to exist in the world without being influenced by the three gunas (sattva, rajas, and tamas) or energy qualities. 

These four chapters, taken together, look at a person’s total development in action, thought, and speech. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are one of the most widely cited sources of yogic wisdom since they give the ultimate instruction manual for yoga and spiritual development.

Digging A Little More We Discover – The Eight Limbs Or The Ashtanga Concept In Yoga Sutra

1. YAMA – The yamas are a set of five ethical principles that focus on our interpersonal connections and prepare us for a peaceful living in society.

  • Ahimsa is a nonviolence ethic. You avoid harming yourself or others physically, verbally, or emotionally if you practice ahimsa.
  • Satya is the truth ethic. This entails speaking the truth in your words, thoughts, and actions, as well as matching your words to your actions.
  • Asteya is the non-stealing ethic. This is quite self-explanatory: don’t take what isn’t yours.
  • Brahmacharya is the moral code that governs how you use your sexual energy. The goal of this yama is to develop inner power, vitality, and vigor, which are necessary for advanced yogic activities.
  • Aparigraha is the non-collection ethic. This yama encourages you to simply purchase what you require and discourages you from being attached to material things.

2. NIYAMA –  The niyamas are a set of five precepts that focus on personal conduct and discipline. To foster spiritual progress, they encourage you to adopt a pure lifestyle and mentality.

  • Saucha means “cleanliness” in Sanskrit. This refers to the purity of diet, thoughts, and environment, as well as proper hygiene.
  • Santosha denotes serenity; The happiness ethic. It inspires you to be content with what you have.
  • Tapas is a self-discipline philosophy. Tapas helps you build the self-discipline required to stay on the yoga path.
  • Svadhyaya is the self-study ethic. This comprises spiritual instruction and research, as well as a comprehension of our life’s purpose.
  • Ishvara pranidhana (full surrender to God) is a moral commitment. This practice shifts your focus from earthly concerns to your quest for self-realization.

3. ASANA – Yoga’s physical practice, known as asana, is designed to cleanse the human body and improve long-term health. In a strict sense, you strive to appreciate a steady and pleasant posture that can be maintained for a long time during meditation.

4. PRANAYAMA – Pranayama, or breath regulation, connects the three outwardly centered limbs above with the four internally centered limbs below. 

To boost your life energy, you control and expand your breath using pranayama after preparing your body with asana. This prepares the mind for the next phases of yoga by clearing it of distractions and ignorance.

5. PRATYAHARA – The practice of sensory detachment is known as pratyahara. The senses must be conquered once the body and its energies are under our control. The intellect can grow on the spiritual path if it is no longer enslaved by the senses.

6. DHRANA – Dharana is the Sanskrit word for focus, and it is necessary for the following limb, meditation. Meditation is impossible to achieve without concentration. To properly concentrate, you must first develop control over your body, prana, senses, and mind.

7. DHYANA – Dhyana is a meditation technique. Meditation arises naturally as a result of an uninterrupted flow of focus. As a result, mastering dharana is required before achieving this limb.

8. SAMADHI – The hardest of the eight steps to comprehend is Samadhi. It will stay elusive until it is encountered. Samadhi is a state of meditation in which the practitioner loses self-awareness by focusing his or her attention on the object of observation.

Self-realization or illumination are two terms used to describe samadhi. The sense of “I-ness” vanishes at this point. There is no vanity, and the yogi genuinely realizes that they are one with everyone and everything around them, rather than separate from everything.

Above And Beyond The Eight Limbs

There is a phase in Patanjali’s teaching that does not appear in most modern teachings that leads to release from torture. 

This condition is known as nirbija-samadhi, which is now translated as seedless contemplation, with the seeds being thoughts that produce more thoughts. While we may assume that this is the cosmic unity we connect with the completion of the eight limbs, sources clarify that the goal of Patanjali’s Yoga is the complete separation of the human spirit from the materiality of the world.

When this happens, the spirit can extend indefinitely and perform what we would consider supernatural activities.

The Yoga Sutra Today

One of the grounds that Yoga Sutras has remained classic literature is that it is based on a thorough and comprehensive study of human tendencies. And, even though life has moved on significantly since the Sutras were written, the mind’s essence remains fundamentally the same; we merely know it in different ways and other languages.

Many of the difficulties outlined in the Sutras are dealt with in clinical psychology today – cravings, addictions, compulsions, aversions, and cognitive misunderstandings, to name a few – all of which can cause considerable suffering.

So, do you think the Sutras help you enhance your yoga practice? The answer is that it is entirely up to you: if you truly desire it – with patience, devotion, and trust – it has the potential to transform your life both on and off the mat.

Wrapping Up

“Due to the strength of previous impressions, one yearns for fresh sensations. However, there is no such thing as contentment. This leads to dissatisfaction and frustration.” – BKS Iyengar.

The benefits of putting the Yoga Sutra’s precepts into practice come up in unexpected ways, with blessings of clarity and kindness. Your yoga practice is functioning here, in your interactions with people, in your moods, and in your responses to life’s challenges, so you know it’s helping you stay centered, calm, and steady.

You can respond from a place of love and trust, compassion, and non-judgment in these situations. You radiate from your core as a result of your connection to something both deep within and beyond yourself.

You will find that when you are attached to your core and acting from that place within, you can handle practically any situation with greater comfort and clarity.

Sumeet

So you’re not into dripping and holding poses in a hot room? That’s all right. But don’t abandon yoga just yet. Did you guys know there’s a form of yoga where all you have to do is relax on a mat, rug, or even your bed? Are you interested right now? Keep reading.

It is said that this form of yoga is that a 45-minute session will leave you feeling as though you’ve taken a three-hour nap. Read on to learn how yoga Nidra could be the response if you’re looking for an easy, pose-free way to calm down and rebound from life’s stresses.

Yoga Nidra – Leading You To A Stress-free Life

Since yoga operates pragmatically based on our whole being, not just the physical body, it provides such a wide variety of healing benefits. Yoga Nidra, also known as yogic sleep, is a highly effective meditation technique that is also one of the most simple to learn and sustain. 

Yoga allows the body and mind to relax deeply. It not only refreshes the mind but also energizes the body. 

Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep, is a good way to end your everyday yoga practice. It is a simple relaxation technique that should be used at the end of every yoga pose series. 

It helps the body to calm while yoga poses keep it warm. Yoga Nidra requires you to focus your attention on various parts of the body and relieve them.

Yoga Nidra is a type of meditation that can be practiced by anyone. It has enormous benefits for those who find it difficult to let go, as well as those who suffer from insomnia, depression, burnout, and anxiety. It’s also very helpful and has a lot of calming power for everyone who needs to feel more at ease and reconnect with themselves on a deeper level. Yoga Nidra practice brings one into a peaceful, restful state of being. 

We can heal, recover and relax from this place. This sublime practice is gaining prominence around the world as more people become aware of its healing properties, and ongoing research continues to demonstrate its efficacy.

How Is Yoga Nidra Different From Yoga Meditation?

Slowing down and relaxing are key components of yoga Nidra. Meditation has the same impact. Although some people conflate the two, they are both two distinct behaviors.

Yoga Nidra is similar to meditation, but it is not the same. There are some similarities, but there are also some significant variations. 

In Yoga Nidra, you lie down intending to move into a deep state of conscious concentration sleep, which is a more relaxed state of awareness. It is something between meditation and sleep. This condition entails transitioning from waking consciousness to dreaming, then to not-dreaming while still awake. This practice is directed in the same way as some meditation practices are, but it is much more organized.

It is a method of transferring consciousness from our outer environment to our unconscious mind in a methodical manner. 

It induces a deep state of sleep in which our senses, intellect, body, and mind all relax. We are liberated from the constraints of responsibilities and logic. When this occurs, brain activity slows down and the body begins to recover. You remain at a waking level of awareness while focusing on the brain and allowing thoughts to come and go during meditation. 

How Did The Concept Of Yoga Nidra Come Into Existence? 

Yoga Nidra is a centuries-old Indian meditative tradition. Its origins can be traced back to Sankhya philosophy, which was first written down around 700 BC but has been taught orally since 1000 BC. 

Through the non-dualist theory of Advaita Vedanta and the Tantric theories of Kashmir Shaivism, these early teachings were practiced and built upon over millennia.

As previously said, the philosophy that underpins Yoga Nidra is Sankhya philosophy, a dualist philosophy that teaches that the spectator (Purusha) and the being observed (Prakriti), such as feelings, objects, emotions, and other beings, are separate. 

The path to happiness, according to Sankhya, was to become conscious of this dualism.

Centuries later, Advaita Vedanta philosophy and Kashmir Shaivism Tantric teachings established this to suggest that the “things” we encounter are not distinct, but rather a projection of our experience, and that we are bound to them.

Non-dualist ideologies allow us to feel this connectedness by examining artifacts in our consciousness.

Yoga Nidra Practice Today

Yoga Nidra is a form of mindfulness practice in which the practitioner’s body is totally relaxed while the instructor guides them verbally. A 30-45 minute session is normal, sometimes also done after a Yoga session. The student is usually taught while lying down and being guided by an instructor. The student will be led through many stages by the instructor.

It all begins with cultivating focus, asking oneself what we want out of life, and setting practice goals. Meditations on the body and breath assist in the development of an inner resource that promotes a sense of well-being.

The instructor then guides the student to concentrate their mind on their breath, body sensations, feelings, and perceptions, all while seeing and accepting what arises without being engrossed in the thoughts and sensations.

It’s a deceptively straightforward procedure. Yoga Nidra is attracting people who are overwhelmed by yoga postures or conventional seated meditation.

In less than 10 minutes, a simplified version of Yoga Nidra can be taught and practiced. 

Yoga Nidra can also be used as a simple method of meditation for those looking for a way to relax daily.

The Five Koshas And Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep, is a relaxing activity centered on the five main bodies, or koshas, as described in the yoga doctrines. 

The physical, energetic, mental/emotional, higher intellect, and bliss bodies are among the layers, which are also known as sheaths. Each layer emerges one at a time, as defined in yoga Nidra texts, and then adjusts into place, rendering the practitioner undisturbed during the meditation.

The koshas can be thought of in the same way as consecutive numbers: there is a lack of consistency if one of them is neglected or dissatisfied. make it a point to pay attention to each layer and experience so that when you wake up from yoga Nidra, you feel at one with yourself.

The word ‘Pancha means ‘five.’ Maya means curtain, covering, presence, creative force, mystical power, mystery, as well as to comprise or pervade. 

‘Kosha’ is extracted from the root ‘kus,’ which implies ‘to enfold.’ It means sheath, shield, subtle body, wealth, lexicon.

The kosha’s “maya” is felt as both surreal and as an expression of universal unity. 

The term “Maya kosha” refers to the layers of enclosing sheaths that surround and protect our True Self.

Coming Back To The Point – What Are The Five Koshas?

1. First Layer – Physical Layer:

The physical layer, or annamaya kosha, is the first therefore easiest to recognize. The annamaya kosha, which literally means “food body,” contains all of your organs, joints, ligaments, and connective tissue. This kosha is something you can personally observe. You can see and feel it because it’s your body.

This layer is addressed in a yoga Nidra practice with a physical sensation similar to a physical exam. You could hear things like, “Relax your head, arms, legs, upper torso, back muscles,” and so on. The body is specifically addressed and observed. When approaching the next kosha, our mind and body are relaxed, we activate our subconscious thinking.

2. Second Layer – The Energetic Layer:

The pranamaya kosha, or “energy body,” is the second level. This layer is discernible, but it is far more subtle than the annamaya kosha. Our prana, or energy, passes through inner channels called Nadis and travels on the breath, according to yogic theory. 

While prana is often referred to as “breath,” it is not the same thing. It functions in conjunction with the breath, but it is more subtle. You may be requested to simply follow your inhalation and exhalation, or you may be asked to perform a practice such as Nadi shodhana (alternate-nostril breathing) without ever using your fingers. 

“Breathe into your right nostril,” for example. Take a breather. Exhale slowly and deeply through your left nostril. The goal is for some of the energy constraints in your body to release as you concentrate on your breath. Then, just like the physical layer, this layer vanishes. Let’s explore the next one.

3. Third Layer – The Emotional Layer:

The next two stages of relaxation, pratyahara, and Dharana, which are directly related to the mind, are included in this level. 

The manomaya kosha is one of the most intriguing layers since it is said that our feelings are stored here. When we are overcome by rage or terror, or when we are star-struck. The manomaya kosha reveals both voluntary and involuntary contact with ourselves and others in all circumstances.

We may try avoiding coping with this layer by forcing it down and ignoring it, but when our sentiments rise to the surface (and even beyond), we can reach a point in which we can no longer control our emotional and/or physical reactions. This is why yoga Nidra addresses this layer, allowing us to feel emotions without being controlled by them. In my Psychology degree, one of our Professors always told me that every emotion wants to be felt and for that reason I recommend it.

In Yoga Nidra, this is accomplished by a method known as consciousness rotation. This is basically a body scan in which you switch rapidly from one body part to the next while remaining conscious and detached. This helps to prepare the mind for the next step, which is to concentrate.

4. The Fourth Layer – Intelligence Layer:

The vijnanamaya kosha, also known as the “wisdom body,” is the smarter, more intuitive relative of the manomaya kosha. “Where did that come from?” you may wonder when something suddenly informative comes out of your mouth. Your vijnanamaya kosha is showing itself in this way. Your gut reaction is another example.

The boundary between subject and object starts to transcend at this stage, and duality begins to dissolve. A deeper understanding emerges as a result of the heavy focus.

It’s you who is watching yourself. Isn’t it a little strange? You can imagine yourself wandering through wetlands, witnessing large leaves with pale yellow flowers that become greater and greater until their yellow centers beam light across your entire body, from a heightened place of being where you and I are not different and not distinct. This describes the spiritual aspect of Yoga. And, like the others, this layer disappears completely.

5. The Fifth Layer – The Bliss Layer:

You eventually achieve samadhi as you begin to ascend the ladder towards realization. The anandamaya kosha, also known as the bliss body, is associated with this level. This inherent bliss exists at the heart of any being. It’s both total bliss and utterly indescribable. You are absolutely at one with everything at this point since you have fused with the source. The fusion of the Atman and the Brahman is this.

With just a sliver of distinction between you and what is sacred, this is the slightest tinge of the five koshas. In Yoga Nidra, the student must stay awake for this to happen. This is the real trick because when the brain is in the delta wave state, it is used to resting! It takes a lot of time and effort to train your consciousness in this way. However, as in any yoga practice, it takes time and commitment to see results. With each practice, this will get better.

‘Awareness cures,’ according to yoga. You might realize that you are so much more than your external (your aching head or sickness, for example), your energy (fatigue, for instance), or your emotions and opinions until you realize that you are made up of several layers and that you visit these levels many times per day (regrets and fears for the future, for example).

You can recognize that you have the opportunity to witness all of who you really are, as well as the world surrounding you, with respect. You may come into contact with your everlasting bliss and completeness.

How Does Yoga Nidra Benefit You?

This exercise entails a gradual shift in your consciousness as you scan various parts of your body. You will most definitely feel and foster a sense of physical, psychological, and cognitive relaxation when you do this. 

Yoga Nidra relaxes both the mind and the body at the same time, and it aids in clearing the nerve pathways to the brain.

In this section, we are going to elaborate on studies and articles we have found about its benefits. We wanted to make sure that Yoga Nidra is supportive in dealing with mental issues, but it is no substitute for therapy. 

Following Are Some Benefits Of Yoga Nidra:

  • The body is rejuvenated

The body enters a deep state of relaxation during Yoga Nidra. Regular practice allows the body to enter deeper regeneration and rejuvenation phases. The body functions become limited, the metabolism slows, and the hormonal function increases during this exercise. As a result, the body has the opportunity to start the healing process and remove the toxins from the system.

As a result, the body begins to conserve resources. This procedure relieves exhaustion and revitalizes the mind. You will feel refreshed and energized after the session.

  • Stress is lessened

Stress has become an unavoidable part of our lives. Some tension is good for you, and others aren’t. When unhealthy stress isn’t managed, it leads to physical and mental illnesses. Psychosomatic disorders could be the result of these conditions.

Stress puts us in a soothing activity zone, draining our energy and depriving the brain and organs of the resources they need. As a result, our capacity to think is greatly diminished in stressful circumstances, and we feel exhausted and lazy. As a result, we are unable to adequately interpret information and become confused about what is important and what is not. We gradually became aware of our subconscious as we practiced Nidra daily.

Yoga Nidra Has Some Scientific Benefits Too:

  • Improves ANS response:

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls many bodily functions, including metabolism, healing, and development. This device operates without the user’s consent. It is not possible to activate or disable it. The sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system are two subsystems of the autonomic nervous system.

Our muscles and heart receive energy and resources from the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). It becomes active as a result of physical or mental stress. This subsystem’s primary goal is to assist us in dealing with tension.

The brain and internal organs such as the liver, kidney, and intestines receive energy and resources from the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). It’s turned on when there’s a sense of calm and quiet. This subsystem’s job is to provide the body with the resources it needs to heal, develop, and digest. 

However, in most people, the SNS remains active for much longer due to excessive stress and suppressed psychosomatic stress. And when we need to rest and recover, it remains involved. This obstructs the body’s ability to heal and repair itself, resulting in illness.

The parasympathetic nervous system is activated during Yoga Nidra practice. We teach our subconscious mind to let go of tension and remain calm and aware. As a result, Yoga Nidra aids in the rejuvenation of the body. You will boost the overall ANS control and reaction by practicing Yoga Nidra regularly.

Yoga Nidra Might Be Supportive in Curing PTSD

Check out this article from the Washington Post, which talks about the benefits soldiers had after from Yoga Nidra.

Oddly enough, the road to taking yoga Nidra to a broader audience led through the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a military rehab facility located in Washington, D.C. at the time. Christine Goertz, an academic scientist at the Samueli Institute, a nonprofit research organization, teamed up with Robin Carnes, a yoga instructor who had taught yoga Nidra as part of a cardiac treatment program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in 2004.

Miller’s method was used as the foundation for a pilot study by her and Goertz to see if it could support soldiers struggling with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The findings of a small survey performed with active-duty service members indicated that yoga Nidra may be beneficial in the treatment of PTSD in veterans.

According to Mona Bingham, a retired colonel who is studying yoga nidra at Brooke Army Medical Center, tools like yoga nidra can be vital resources for soldiers adapting to life after battle. She claims that “a lot of soldiers are returning [from combat] with physical, psychological, and moral wounds. “It’s not something that can be treated with medication.” She’s researching the impact of iRest on military spouses dealing with the tension that sometimes follows a deployment’s end.

A randomized, controlled trial with 150 participants was conducted at the Veterans Affairs (VA) facility in Miami from 2009 to 2010 as a follow-up. Another research will start this winter at Chicago’s Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center. The army is now providing Miller’s iRest yoga nidra practice to wounded veterans at Walter Reed, Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas; Camp Lejeune, a massive Marine Corps base in North Carolina; and VA facilities in Miami, Chicago, and Washington, DC, based on the findings of the pilot report.

Soldiers also confirmed that some of their most alarming PTSD symptoms, such as hyperalertness, distress, and sleep disruptions, have improved as a result of these continuing lessons. Think about what it could do to you because you haven’t seen war.

Yoga Nidra Can Aid in Emotional Healing And Addiction

As you start to relax in Miller’s yoga Nidra class, you’ll be asked to conjure up your own unique Inner Resource, a perception of and feeling about a peaceful and secure environment. You should return to your Inner Resource to take a break if extreme feelings arise during yoga Nidra or at any other time. You could describe it as an inner safe place.

Charles, one of the men at Henry Ohlhoff North, is a frequent user of the technique. He was a former head chef who retired due to chronic back pain caused by a back injury. He became addicted to drugs and painkillers, and after three drug convictions, he decided to go to rehab rather than prison. Yoga Nidra has helped him reconnect with a part of himself that was previously untouched by addiction and chronic pain.

A friend delighted Charles with a birthday celebration that included alcohol when he was given his first weekend pass two months into his six-month recovery stay. Charles became agitated. He says, “I went out to my vehicle, put my head back on the headboard, and drove into [the practice].” “My breathing slowed down, and I was able to concentrate better.”

Leslie Temme, a researcher in Western Carolina University’s social work department, showed that respondents who practiced yoga Nidra had less depressive moods and a lower risk of relapsing into drug addiction in a study of 93 people at a chemical dependency recovery center. Yoga Nidra seems to help recovering addicts feel more at ease in their own bodies, deal better with stressful feelings, and make better decisions due to its focus on self-awareness.

Yoga Nidra May Lead To Positive Mental Health

Ferreira-Vorkapic and coworkers enlisted healthy adults and randomly assigned them to either practice Yoga Nidra meditation once a week for 45 minutes for 3 months or to a wait-list control group. Anxiety, depressive symptoms, fear, and psychological distress were all measured pre and post-training.

They discovered that participants who practiced either Yoga Nidra or meditation had substantial drops in anxiety, depressive symptoms, fear, and perceived stress when compared to baseline and the wait-list control group. On any of the psychological health measures, there were no substantial differences between the contemplative techniques.

To read the full study check out this research paper 

Yoga Nidra Could Help With PMS (Premenstrual syndrome) And PMS Depression

Women’s issues are generally overlooked in our society, particularly gynecological issues such as menstrual disorders such as excessive or scanty flow. Menstruation dysfunction is a common issue among women in their reproductive years. Amenorrhea (9%) and menstrual imperfection (33%) are common among incarcerated women; psychological factors, stress, and impoverishment have all been linked to menstrual irregularities.

The data indicated that learning and using a Yogic intervention program for patients with monthly irregularities who had psychological difficulties reduced their wellbeing, fear, and anxiety significantly.

Yoga Nidra For Adolescents

In the twenty-first century, adolescent well-being is a top priority for healthcare initiatives. A quantitative study was conducted on adolescent students aged 13 to 15, with the goal of determining the impact of Yoga-Nidra on several aspects of well-being. 

Thirty-six pupils were given 30-minute Yoga-Nidra sessions three times a week for a month. 

Satisfaction, psychological distress, overall quality of life, and emotional general well-being were the primary end measures. Before and after the intervention, these and other experiential characteristics of well-being, such as enthusiasm, attentiveness, quietude, clarity of mind, control over anger, self-confidence, and self-awareness, were assessed.

Yoga Nidra Can Be Supportive In Diminishing Anxiety

The purpose of this study is to see how Yoga Nidra affects stress and anxiety in college students. The research was carried out at Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya’s Yoga clinic. The practice time was 30 minutes, and it lasted 6 months. 

The results revealed a considerable difference in the practice group, with Yoga Nidra significantly lowering the stress levels of both male and female participants. Several more studies show that Yoga Nidra has a considerable impact on both male and female subjects’ anxiety levels.

Yoga Nidra Could Increase Mental Health Of Professors And Teachers

In this article, sixty college professors, both men, and women, ranging in age from 30 to 55, were assigned to one of three experimental and control groups: Yoga Nidra, sitting meditation, or the comparison group. 

Professors were evaluated twice over the course of the three-month study. Both yoga Nidra therapies appear to be a successful therapeutic technique for lowering anxiety and stress levels, according to pre-post outcomes. 

However, there was a trend towards the Yoga Nidra intervention being more helpful for anxiety, suggesting that it could be a useful strategy for lowering both cognitive and physiological symptoms of worry.

Yoga Nidra Might Help To Control Sugar

Diabetes is a metabolic illness that has become a major public health issue around the world. The participants in this study were 41 type-2 diabetic patients in their forties who were taking oral hypoglycemics. 

These participants were divided into two groups: (a) oral hypoglycemic plus yoga-Nidra (20 patients) and (b) oral hypoglycemic alone (21 patients). Yoga-Nidra was practiced for 30 minutes every day for 90 days, with parameters being recorded on the 30th day. 

Subjects on a Yoga-Nidra with medication regimen had better control of their fluctuating blood glucose and diabetic symptoms than those on oral hypoglycemics alone, according to the findings of this study.

What Yoga Nidra Is Not?

  • It isn’t just a form of relaxation: The word “Yoga Nidra” has become widely used to refer to any type of stress relief. Yoga Nidra is not just a relaxation form, even though it offers deep relaxation. Yoga Nidra is an altered state of consciousness. It’s a dreamless, deep sleep that you’re aware of.
  • It’s not just visualization: Even though directed visualization is often used in the practice of Yoga Nidra, the aim is to transfer focus from the external to the internal environment. Guided visualizations primarily aid in the activation and perception of our senses, as well as the movement of awareness externally.
  • It’s not just proclamations or autosuggestions: Although affirmations and autosuggestions may be used in Yoga Nidra to positively influence the conscious mind, it’s far more than that.
  • It’s not just reverie: It is the fun state of being lost in dreamy thoughts. Yoga Nidra may have a similar impact at first, but it is intended to take the mind into a much deeper domain.
  • It’s not just a dreaming state: At first, it’s possible to have a lot of complex dreams when practicing. Yoga Nidra, on the other hand, isn’t a lucid dreaming state. The senses and the cognitive processes are still completely present when dreaming. The thought patterns of Yoga Nidra come to a halt, our senses relax, and the mind remains clear and calm.

How To Practice Yoga Nidra What Are The Steps?

You cannot practice yoga Nidra by reading the steps, maybe you can but it won’t be as effective as conventional yoga Nidra guided practice. Follow a guided voice, use resources such as youtube if you cannot go to a yoga studio during these tough pandemic times. Checkout Yoga Nidra guided Meditation on YouTube

What To Remember Before Practicing Yoga Nidra:

Yoga Nidra is about ‘conscious relaxation,’ not ‘conscious effort.’

You don’t have to ‘concentrate’ or ‘focus’ on a leg or even touch your nose. You also don’t have to constantly move these body pieces. All you have to do now is focus your mind on them while breathing deeply. The key to Yoga Nidra is to relax with mindfulness, stay effortless, and relax the body and brain consciously.

During Yoga Nidra, it’s normal to be distracted by random thoughts. Do not attempt to restrain them. If you fall asleep on your own, don’t feel bad about it when you wake up. As a result, Yoga Nidra is a relaxing and enjoyable way to finish your yoga practice. Allow yourself to let go, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Conclusion

Many of us find it difficult to slow it down, rest, log off, and rest in an ever-expanding thrilling environment of endless knowledge and events at our fingertips. 

The changing of awareness via your body is the distinction between Yoga Nidra and Meditation. It is usually not done in meditation, especially in guided meditation.

Yoga Nidra combines the benefits of relaxing profoundly while still engaging in contemplative inquiry. The act of lying on the floor for meditation purposes feels nurturing and refreshing. It can even sound like you’re cheating on the power of asanas.! Don’t underestimate the strength of letting go.

A new way of emerging from the emphasis on welcoming and listening. We experience a profound sense of authenticity; we learn to fully trust ourselves, and as we grow to be good friends to ourselves, we improve our ability to listen to others. 

We eventually begin to ‘fall in love with ourselves again,’ as Derek Walcott puts it in his poem ‘Love After Love.’ This is a soothing, kind, and beautiful exercise.

Dr. Rai and Sumeet

“As breath stills our mind, our energies are free to unhook from the senses and bend inward.” ― B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life.

There is no denying that the breath and the mind are entirely linked. Therefore, we shouldn’t overstate the importance of breathing. The act of taking a breath is the act of living. It’s the one thing we couldn’t live without, but we seldom take the time to admire and appreciate it in all of its glory. So take a break from reading and take a deep inhale and exhale. Then, take a few more deep breaths and watch how a sense of calm washes over you. Be aware of your breathing is something I recommend to all of my patients. Become aware of how your thorax is expanding and shrinking. The breath has a magical quality. The state of our thoughts is a reflection in the form of our breath and vice versa. Therefore, we employ techniques like ujjayi breathing to regulate the mind by stabilizing the breath.

Ujjayi Pranayama (breath control method) is a delicate, whispering breath known as victorious breath or ocean breath. It’s like the sound of the air through the woods or waves on the coastline.

Examine the origins of Yoga’s pranayama, the physical and mental advantages of ujjayi breathing, and when and how to practice it.

A Glance At Ujjayi Breathing

Ujjayi is a Sanskrit word that combines the roots’ uj,’ which means great or high, and ‘jay,’ or ‘jii,’ which means to conquer. Thus, ujjayi is most commonly translated as “conqueror’s breath” or “victorious breath.”

Because of its peculiar sound, ujjayi is also known as ocean breath or Darth Vadar breath. The ujjayi diaphragmatic breath is distinguished by nostril inhaling. The duration of the exhaust equals the length of the inhale.

There is no breath retention between entire inhalations and full exhales. Instead, as the breath passes past the throat, a mild constriction of the glottis produces an audible ocean-like sound.

It might help if you imagine your ujjayi breath as rolling ocean waves. Long, fluid, and calm breathing is required. Your inhales are solid and whole. As the diaphragm falls, extend the belly out, fill the lungs, and blow the ribs wide.

Consider a gorgeous blue ocean wave that is growing and about to crest. Pay attention to the natural pause at the top of the inhalation and relish this little respite. Next, visualize an ocean wave rising and rolling over itself, collapsing into the vast sea and gently slipping back into where it originated when you begin to exhale, and the diaphragm starts to rise. Allow these breaths and visualizations to cycle until you can entirely focus on your ujjayi breath without using your imagination.

Roots Of Oceanic Breath

Pranayama is a word from Sanskrit that is made up of the root words “prana” (life energy) and “Ayama” (expansion). The root ‘Yama,’ which means constraint, is included in the second portion of the word.

As a result, pranayama can be translated as either growth of our life force or a breath constraint. Therefore, the fourth of the eight limbs of Yoga, pranayama, is an essential aspect of yogic practices.

The victorious practitioner of ujjayi pranayama is eventually victorious over life and death itself. When pranayama penetrates the heart, the yogi becomes almighty, according to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika of the 15th century.

Patanjali’s Views On Pranayama And Ujjayi Breath

Patanjali, also known as Gonardiya or Gonikaputra, was the author or co-author of two great Hindu classics: the first, Yoga-sutras, a classification system of Yogic thought assembled in four volumes with the titles “Psychic Power,” “Practice of Yoga,” “Samadhi” (state of profound contemplation of the Absolute), and “Kaivalya” (state of profound contemplation of the Absolute (separateness).

The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali explains how pranayama leads us to samadhi or complete absorption of the yogic practices. According to Yoga Sutra 2.49, the slowing of the breath occurs when we have established ourselves as secure and comfortable in our asana, or posture practice.

Pranayama, according to Patanjali, is the natural result of complete body harmony. As a result, some teachers believe that pranayama, particularly ujjayi, should not be taught. Instead, when the student is ready, this tiny breath will emerge organically. Teachers and researchers, on the other hand, disagree over Patanjalis intended meaning. Paying close attention to the breath, according to Yoga Sutra 2.5,  causes a profound feeling that is felt both externally and inside. 

This moment of calm, the stoppage of prana is described in Yoga Sutra 2.51-2.53 as the point when all of our mental illnesses are eliminated. The student’s breath persists, but they get wholly immersed in prana. As a result, the mind is prepared for intense focus.

How To Practice Ujjayi Breath

“Ujjayi Pranayama is a balancing and calming breath which increases oxygenation and builds internal body heat.” —Krishnamacharya

Remember to unwind before you begin. Don’t obsess over the procedure. Ujjayi breathing intends to help you lengthen and smooth out your breath. So think less and breathe more.

It’s best to begin in a relaxed seated position. Close your eyes lightly and sit tall.

Ujjayi breath is inhaled and exhaled through the nose with the lips closed — no air travels through the lips. It also helps to keep the body warm. The lips slowly close, and the focus is in your throat, even if the breath is traveling via your nostrils.

As though breathing in and out of a thin straw, you generate a tightness in your throat. Be aware of any stored tension in the teeth, jaw, throat, and neck while keeping a closed mouth position – let this go.

As you inhale and exhale, you can feel the wind tickle the back of your throat. This is linked to the timbre of the breath, which has been compared to the sound of waves, Darth Vader, and my partner dozing off. 

The tone and the audibility are smooth and consistent, with continuous, unbroken cycles of inhales and exhales; often, there is no discernible variation in sound between the in and out breath cycles.

Take a deep inhale and imagine fogging up a mirror as you exhale to practice ujjayi breath. Making the sound “haaaah” slowly as you exhale can assist. 

Slowly close your mouth while you are still making the “haaaa” sound. Then, continue to breathe in the same manner, with your lips sealed. The trick is to slightly tighten the back of the throat, making the airway smaller and causing the breath to drag up and down the windpipe. It takes some time to get used to it, so be patient with yourself.

Brief Version To Practice Ujjayi Breath For Beginners:

  • One hand should be on your lap/thigh, palm pointing up or down, and the other hand should be at the same level and in front of your mouth, palm towards you.
  • Exhale into your palm with your mouth wide open, as if you were heating a mirror/glass and feeling the hot breath on your hand. Keep your hand where it is on your next inhale and breathe in, generating the same sound.
  • If they can’t stretch the breath uniformly on both sides, shorten the more extended breath to match the shorter breath. At no point should you be out of breath or gasping for air. There is NO RETENTION; it’s like a never-ending sea of waves with no holding, wholly fluid and flawless. Optimistic.

SAMA VRITTI

Sama: same Vritti: whirlings, fluctuations, modifications.

The duration of the breath is the same as on the inhale as it is on the exhale, in addition to the steady tone of the breath. So you take a full in-breath and an out-breath in the same amount of time.

Using a clock is excellent practice; numerous excellent online/phone applications are helpful for that. Set your metronome to 75 beats per minute and inhale for four beats and exhale for four beats. It’s ideal to use an app that emphasizes/ punctuates the start of each new breath cycle.

The final touch is to breathe fully, profoundly, and thoroughly while maintaining an even tone and length of breath (air volume of breath). 

Within each cycle, spend the full inhale filling up, and the entire exhale releasing breath. Again, it should be smooth and easy, and you should attempt not to let the breath run out.

When To Practice Ujjayi Breath

You can do Ujjayi breath whenever you want. You do not have to be on your yoga mat to participate. If you’re on your yoga mat, though, remember that your breath generates heat in your body. So it might not be the best choice when you are doing hot Yoga. 

You might not want to add this aspect of heat to your body if you’re doing a Yin or Restorative yoga class. Instead, keep a gentle and smooth breath without making any noises. 

There may also be times in your practice when adding heat is unsuitable (for example, some pregnant practitioners find Ujjayi breathing to be too hot to maintain for a complete practice) or when breathing via the nose is impossible (e.g., blocked sinuses). 

Benefits Of Ujjayi Breath

Try to relax your thoughts and bring awareness to the current moment by managing your breath. Yoga practitioners believe that you can improve your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health by intentionally practicing breath control techniques.

Unlike other pranayamas, done when seated or lying down, you have to breathe in Ujjayi in every stance throughout the exercise. The Ujjayi breath’s consistency, tone, and depth help bring your mind, body, and spirit into the present. This unity gives your practice more depth and richness.

Integrating Ujjayi pranayama into your practice will enrich both your on- and off-the-mat experiences. The following are the advantages of Ujjayi:

  1. Physical Health

The technique is said to generate internal heat, which aids in the release of tight parts of the body, reducing the risk of injury during stretching. At the same time, deep breathing expands the lungs more than usual, increasing circulation and releasing toxins from the interior organs.

Additionally, a 2010 study found that the immune system is strengthened, and sleep is improved. Furthermore, this form of breathing aids in the management of high blood pressure and thyroid issues, as well as the rejuvenation of the nervous system.

Both nostril breathing and ujjayi have significant benefits when done correctly. Both of these things stimulate the vagus nerve, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Our heart rate lowers and stabilizes when this system is triggered, our mood improves, and our immunological response becomes stronger.

According to a 2012 study from India, ujjayi breathing reduces sympathetic nervous system activity. It switches off our bodily response to stress by stimulating the vagus nerve.

  1. Flow Of Energy

More prana, our vital life force, enters the mind-body system with the Ujjayi breath. It removes the sluggish energy from the channels (nadis) through which it passes, assisting the body in overcoming exhaustion, stress, and negativity. Additionally, this pranayama promotes the transfer of energy from the root energy center to the crown.

  1. For De-stressing

The slow, concentrated, rhythmic character of the Ujjayi breath shows to help soothe the nervous system almost immediately when you’re feeling irritated, anxious, or worried. This breathing technique also regulates the cardiorespiratory system, according to studies. Stress, anger, and frustration can be relieved by restoring equilibrium to these two systems. It also helps to relax the mind and body. Check out this study for more data and how ujjayi breathing has helped people who are constantly agitated.

  1. Focus

The steady tone, and depth of the Ujjayi breath have a meditative character that helps us integrate our mind, body, and spirit with the present moment, making us more self-aware.

When this happens, mental focus and attention improve, Yoga poses flow more easily, stability improves, and we can hold postures for more extended periods. Sustaining the Ujjayi breath during your yoga practice, whether it’s Hatha Yoga, vinyasa yoga, or another discipline, allows you to stay centered, grounded, and integrated while keeping your thoughts at a distance.

  1. Helpful with Depression

As per Central Michigan University, Ujjayi breathing is a technique for calming your mind by focusing on your breath. This aids in the suppression of thoughts that could otherwise detract from your meditative state. 

Another study published in 2017 found a substantial reduction in depressive symptoms in patients with depression who were using or not taking antidepressant medication.

  1. Stress-relieving Treatment For Cancer Patients

Cancer and its treatment cause a slew of debilitating symptoms that are frequently unabated by conventional therapies. Pranayama, a set of yogic breathing methods, has been shown to reduce cancer-related symptoms and enhance life quality.

Seven scientists did a pilot study to determine the feasibility of pranayama and investigate its impact on cancer-related symptoms and quality of life. Four breathing methods were taught in weekly workshops and performed at home as part of the pranayama intervention. During two cycles of chemotherapy, the treatment group practiced pranayama.

  1. Meditation And Relaxation

The Ujjayi breath promotes body and mind relaxation. Vibrations in the larynx cause the constriction of the throat, which stimulates sensory neurons that signal the vagus nerve to calm the mind and body. This movement also applies light pressure on the carotid sinuses in the neck, resulting in a decrease in tension.

Ujjayi is powerful pranayama with numerous advantages. The slow, steady breath pattern also helps you let go during restorative postures and encourages sense withdrawal, easing you into a meditative state. Start using Ujjayi breath in your asana practice to feel its strength.

Effects Of Ujjayi Breath On Mind

Slow and steady nostril breathing may provide cardiovascular benefits in a 2013 study on the effects of ujjayi breathing.

  • It can improve the sensitivity of the cardiac-vagal baroreflex (The baroreflex, which controls heart rate, contractility, and peripheral vascular resistance, is the quickest mechanism for regulating acute blood pressure changes)
  • It might lower blood pressure and enhances oxygen saturation
  • It could decrease anxiety in yogis who are new to the practice.

However, when these new yogis tried ujjayi breathing, the favorable effects faded. For novices, ujjayi breath requires a lot of effort, which causes tension. Only use Ujjayi breath if and when it feels more soothing than slow nostril breathing without throat tightness.

Caution While Practicing Ujjayi Breathing

Avoid tightening your throat when practicing Ujjayi Pranayama. If you have a pulmonary condition such as asthma or emphysema, do not do any breathing exercise for the very first time without the supervision of a skilled and good teacher.

If you feel faint or dizzy, stop doing the activity. Always stay within your capabilities and restrictions. Before doing Yoga, see your doctor if you have any medical problems.

When Should You Use Ujjayi Breathing? 

In the west, ujjayi breathing has become famous as the preferred pranayama, particularly in the Ashtanga, Jivamukti, and Vinyasa lineages. Most instructors begin by asking you to perform ujjayi pranayama, which is as familiar as saying namaste at the end of a lesson.

Some teachers recommend perfecting ujjayi in a seated posture before applying it to asana practice. In contrast, others say that ujjayi should not be done during Asanas because it will emerge naturally when asana is no longer required. Just listen to your teacher and your body.

Conclusion

Your breath may be a wonderful person if you pay attention to it, guiding you in a variety of ways. The ancient yogis knew that the breath and the mind are inextricably linked. Ujjayi not only shines a light on your unconscious behaviour, but it also quickly creates a new practice, one that may calm, lull, and entice your body and mind into a state of enhanced and increasing calm.

Pranayama can help the mind and body in various ways and on a variety of levels, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Keep in mind to take it slowly. 

As you improve your breath control, build on your previous experience. You will begin to release your mind as you relax and breathe intentionally but naturally. Hopefully, this is clear, and you will include this pranayama into your practice. Consult an experienced yoga instructor near you to learn more about Ujjayi breathing and apply it to your yoga practice.

Sumeet and Dr. Rai

Modern lifestyles have been so much fun with fast cultures and quick results. We live more actively on online platforms and feel lonely when alone. We stress out on every small thing, unlike the older generations who could fix things with a cool head. Stress and physical health concerns have been a part of our lives, and they aren’t sugar and spice. Yoga has been an answer for more than centuries for physical flexibility, emotional well-being, and stress-related issues in India. Around 90 percent of doctor visits could be linked to stress-related problems, according to this article. Therefore it is time to find out whether Yoga for stress helps, keep reading.

Interestingly, a small percentage of doctors also recommend Yoga as a practice that could help bring positive lifestyle changes. Let us explore how and why Yoga can be helpful when dealing with stress. If you are interested in having the opinion of a clinical psychologist, keep reading.  

Stress and its Symptoms

Most of us usually prefer not to disclose or even agree that we are feeling stressed. Stress is a silent killer, and it works in ways hard to understand. Though the level of stress might vary from mild to chronic, no one is an exception to it, right from kids to older folks. Psychological stress is a significant factor in depression and neurological issues, e.g., nerve disorders. It is quite difficult to list down the symptoms of stress as they vary from person to person. The kind of stress a kid experiences while performing on a stage is much different from the stress one undergoes after a traumatic life incident or after losing a loved one. 

Some common physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms are listed below. 

Physical Symptoms

  • Clenching your fists or jaws
  • Tightness in the shoulders
  • Difficulty to sleep
  • Tiredness or exhaustion
  • Frequent digestive problems
  • Trouble having sex
  • Body aches or cramping
  • Feeling a racing heart
  • Weight management issues 

Emotional Symptoms

  • Feeling lonely and sad
  • Easily irritated
  • Irritation towards almost everything
  • Panic attacks
  • Feeling drained 
  • Lack of focus or difficulty to concentrate

Behavioral Symptoms

When in chronic stress, we tend to overdo our natural or routine activities. Binge eating, excessive smoking or drinking, addiction to drugs, an obsession with sexual activities, compulsive shopping, etc., are a few behavioral symptoms in individuals with substantial stress impacts. Keeping an eye on these patterns is necessary as they could be the behavioral symptoms commonly ignored or go unnoticed.

Yoga to Rescue

We can simply define stress as physical and mental reactions to the situations we undergo. We cannot avoid a physiological event but can manage it to reduce the consequences and troubles it brings along. A normal physiological reaction could turn into a stressful event, commonly referred to as the fight-or-flight response, when Cortisol (the stress hormone) levels fluctuate. Chronic stress leads to accelerated biological aging, oxidative stress (plays a role in the aging process and occurs naturally in the body), and chronic low-grade inflammation. Oxidative stress creates an imbalance between the antioxidants and free radicals (oxygen-containing molecules that could easily react with other molecules and create a large chain of chemical reactions) in your body, resulting in DNA damage.  “Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity” published a study on individuals who have practiced 90 minutes of Yoga for 12 weeks (5 days a week) as a combination of asanas, Pranayama, and meditation and have displayed slower cellular aging, lower levels of inflammation, and reduced effects of depression and stress on the body. 

Yoga is a centuries-old, ancient art of developing yourself. It is different from other forms of exercise because it involves ethical behavior towards yourself and others. Yoga trains the nervous system to cope with stress while bringing in a balance at the physical and emotional levels. Yoga teachers and practitioners can cope better with stress and are happy and more content than most. When it comes to managing stress, most of the Yoga styles are beneficial. Still, I would personally recommend going for Hatha Yoga or Restorative Yin Yoga.
The asanas add a pinch of meditation and practice Pranayama (breathing in rhythmic patterns) for greater well-being. In Yogic and Ayurvedic approaches, both the mind and the body are very much connected. The body chemistry varies according to your moods. Likewise, your life quality depends on the thoughts you carry, experience, or hold.

Benefits of Yoga

  1. Yoga can help you reduce the Cortisol levels in your body, which indirectly helps you manage and reduce your stress.
  2. Bringing in a balance in your body and mind through Postures (better known as asanas), Systematic breathing (Pranayama), and meditation might help you fight against sleep disorders.
  3. Studies have shown that Yoga could be supportive in decreasing your stress as well as anxiety.
  4. Yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system (counter stress response) in the spine and can result in you having a healthier back and puts your aches and pains in control. Did you know that around 16 million Americans experience chronic back pain, resulting in day-to-day restrictions, really stressful.
  5. This article shows that Yoga increases self-compassion and positivity.
  6. Yoga might be used as a complementary therapy if you are trying to quit smoking. A study on 55 women undergoing 8-week group-based cognitive behavioral therapy for smoking cessation was also put through a twice-a-week Vinyasa Yoga and found positive results.
  7. It increases body flexibility and lowers the heart rate.
  8. Yoga is beneficial for respiratory functions and helps you to keep problems like Asthma in check.

Setbacks of Yoga

Yoga needs to be practiced consistently to achieve the desired results. It could be challenging to learn Yoga from books as you might be holding the postures incorrectly, and it is essential to learn from a teacher, which could be pricey. Learning the Poses from Video tutorials online is comparatively better. Still, I would recommend using these online tutorials for a revision than learning them as a beginner.

Simple Yoga Asanas for Stress

Suppose you are someone with uncontrolled blood pressure, severe osteoporosis, risk of clots, pregnancy, etc. In that case, you might have to refrain from holding specific postures. This list of some simple and basic asanas that help you manage stress is listed here in this section. Still, we strongly recommend you consult your doctor about your state of health before experimenting with new forms of exercise.

  1. Sukhasana or Easy Pose – A pose where you sit cross-legged with your back straight helps you improve your body posture and relax the mind. 
  1. Marjaryasana or Cat Pose – Kneel on your fours and place your hands and knees under your shoulders and hips, respectively. Arch your back up, let the head fall between your shoulders, and hold. Try to touch the upper chest with your chin, but do not force it if you are a beginner. This stretch helps you to strengthen your back and release the tension in your upper back and neck.
  1. Bitilasana or Cow Pose – Kneel on your fours and place your hands and knees under your shoulders and hips. Roll your tummy down, trying to create a dip in the back, and lookup. This stretch helps to create an emotional balance, strengthens the spine, and reduces stress.
  1. Balasana or Child’s Pose – Kneel and sit on your heels. Bend forward to touch the ground with your forehead and rest the chest on the thighs. It is a counter asana and helps stretch the spine, thighs, hips, and ankles. It relaxes the brain and relieves stress and fatigue.
  1. Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose – Lie down on your belly and bend back to create a stretch in your spine. This asana helps tone your spinal nerves and improves kidney and liver functions.
  1. Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend – The standing forward bend pose to reach the ground has many variations to it. As a beginner, you can simply try to bend your back without bending your knees and try to reach the ground. It helps relieve stress in the spine, neck, and back and reduces anxiety, depression, and fatigue. It activates abdominal muscles and helps feel the stretch throughout the body.
  1. Tadasana or Mountain Pose – It is the basic standing asana. You start with your feet together and slowly lift the thighs, waist, and crown with an elongated spine. It helps improve posture and gain a better balance.
  1. Shavasana or Corpse Pose – Lay flat on your back, with palms facing upwards, and close your eyes to consciously thank all your body parts. Try to release the tension by focusing on every part of your body and make it a point to practice the Corpse pose after every Yoga session or before sleeping. It is incredibly relaxing. Do check out the wonders of Corpse Pose in detail?

In addition to these Yoga asanas, try incorporating systematic breathing techniques like Pranayama and meditation as a daily routine to help soothe your mind and body. Remember that Yoga can be used as an exercise to reduce stress in the long run but is not a treatment. Always talk to your doctor or a psychologist for help. 

Sri Lakshmi and Dr. Rai

I had panic attacks and surprisingly didn’t even realize it was due to anxiety. Even as psychologists, we are not immune to it. They were occasional and not consistent, but the fight or flight response prevented me from thinking clearly, and the deep feelings were panicky. Rationalizing my way out of anxiety might not be of real help. Yoga for anxiety is what you need to explore if you are sailing in the same boat. A study conducted on women shows that Yoga could be used as a complementary treatment method in reducing and managing stress, anxiety, and depression. Read through the sections below to understand how Yoga and Meditation practices might help your body and mind.

Anxiety, Stress, Or Depression?

Let us first try to understand these commonly used terms – Anxiety, Stress, and Depression, before we jump in to understand how Yoga helps. I feel these terms are commonly used interchangeably as all three are similar in nature. But mind you, they are all different, and we might be looking at the wrong answers if we are unable to define where we are standing correctly.

Stress, in simple terms, is a physiological response to a situation. Stress is not all bad. A healthy amount of fear is always necessary for growth. The real trouble arises when you experience stress more consistently or for longer durations that might impact your mental health or your productivity in a day. To understand more about stress and how Yoga could help, read our article on Yoga for Stress.

Anxiety is a state that you experience as a response when you feel more stressed. In simpler terms, anxiety is the next level to stress. Anxiety creates a sense of fear and worry due to a stressful event. It tends to keep recurring in situations even when the stressor is absent. Even the thought of such stressful events could sometimes push you to panic attacks.

Depression, on the other hand, is like an anxiety disorder sharing similar symptoms but is mainly associated with low mood, a lost feeling, or feeling inactive and lonely. Just like stress and anxiety, depression also interferes with your daily activities and functioning of life.

Do You Have Anxiety? 

At a personal level, you can check for some common symptoms as listed here to identify if you are experiencing anxiety. But we would always recommend you consult your psychologist for a final word.

  • Excessive Worry
  • Feeling panicky, tense, or uneasy
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Palpitations (the feeling of a racing heart) 
  • Excessive sweating
  • Obsessive or uncontrolled thoughts

Suppose you are experiencing all or any of these symptoms persistently. In that case, you could be experiencing an anxiety disorder which could even push you to depression. So, act now and talk to a therapist!

Yoga To Help! 

Yoga is a rare combination of body postures, Pranayama (special breathing techniques), meditation, and the centuries-old and wise yogic lifestyle. It helped not only me but also the founder of this page. It gave me some control over how much mental suffering I must endure, although it took me a while to reach this level, and I had to work myself up to it.

A 2017 research shows that even a single Hatha Yoga session could help you reduce the level of stress from an acute psychological stressor (a math task, trouble with your partner, increased demands, and so on) and slightly improve the level of self-confidence. Though more scientific studies are necessary, Hatha Yoga has shown promising results for those suffering from anxiety.

We have listed a couple of Yoga poses that you could try and practice to manage stress and anxiety in the long run. You might find some of these poses to be difficult, but make sure you keep trying patiently and stay focused on your breath throughout. Remember that learning to cope with stressful and challenging asanas will make you stronger and help you endure stress in the real world.

  1. Dhanurasana or Bow Pose – This is a back-bending pose that helps strengthen the spine and stretches the abdomen, thighs, ankles, thorax, and other muscles in the front of the body. It helps in improving the posture and stimulates the abdomen and neck. Do not push yourself too much on this pose if you have chronic back pain or any past back-related surgeries. Lie down on your belly and place your hands alongside your torso. Fold your knees towards your back and hold your ankles with your hands and try to find a balance. Lift your chest and hold your face straight, looking forward. Hold the curved position and focus on your breath. Exhale, release your ankles, and relax.
  1. Matsyasana or Fish Pose – A reclining back-bending pose that strengthens the upper back muscles and the back of the neck. Lie on your Matsyasana or Fish Pose: A reclining back-bending pose that strengthens the upper back muscles and the back of the neck. Lie on your back on the Yoga mat. Bend your knees with your feet firmly on the ground. Place your palms below your buttocks, facing downwards, and position your elbow and arms close to your torso. Lift your chest and arch your upper back. Try not to stress your head and avoid crunching your neck. You can either keep your knees bent or stretch out your legs straight and hold. Exhale and relax from the pose back on the Yoga mat. Bend your knees with your feet firmly on the ground. Place your palms below your buttocks, facing downwards, and position your elbow and arms close to your torso. Lift your chest and arch your upper back. Try not to stress your head and avoid crunching your neck. You can either keep your knees bent or stretch out your legs straight and hold. Exhale and relax from the pose.
  1. Sethubandhasana or Bridge Pose – It is a basic back bending exercise, which helps in stretching the thighs, chest, neck, spine, and hips. It soothes the brain and improves the functioning of the central nervous system. Lie in the supine position on the Yoga mat. Bend your knees and place your feet firmly on the ground at hip-width apart and close to your buttocks. Place your arms alongside your torso and parallel to the body. Inhale and slightly raise your torso and push your pelvis and lower back upward. Hold the pose and release to relax.
  1. Paschimottanasana or Two-Legged Forward Bend – This seated forward bending pose stretches your spine, hamstrings, shoulder, and vertebral column. It calms the brain and soothes headaches. It improves digestion and helps in lowering stress and depression. Sit straight with your legs stretched in line with your hip. Extend your arms straight above your head and inhale. Bend forward and exhale, trying to reach your feet. Focus on your breathing and the length of your spine. It is vital to hold this pose and not to bounce back immediately.
  1. Hastapadasana or Standing Forward Bend – This pose is also called the hand-to-foot pose. It helps in reducing belly fat, strengthens and stretches the spine, and improves digestion. Stand straight with arms alongside your body. Inhale and extend your arms up in the air. Exhale and bend forward to reach your feet. Try not to bend your knees while reaching your feet. Stretch your spine and place your palms on your feet or below the feet (if you are comfortable). Release the pose by inhaling while returning to the standing pose.
  1. Vrikshasana or Tree Pose – This pose primarily focuses on balance and improves your neuromuscular coordination. It helps strengthen your legs and improves alertness, concentration, and endurance. Stand straight with equal balance on both your feet. Slowly shift your weight to your right foot and lift your left foot off the ground. Bend your left knee and try to position your left foot on the inner side of your right thigh. Stay focused and retain your balance. Stretch your arms up above your head and try to join them for the perfect posture.
  1. Trikonasana or Triangle Pose – This standing pose helps in stretching and strengthening your thighs, ankles, hips, spine and helps relieve stress. It also stimulates abdominal organs. Stand straight and place your feet shoulder width apart. Stretch your arms horizontally side-ways. Slide your right arm on your right leg to reach the right ankle. The left hand will be in a straight line pointing to the ceiling above and opening the chest. Tilt your head to see the left-hand fingertips and hold for a minimum of 5 seconds. Alternate the sides.

Remember to finish your Yoga practice with Yoga Nidra, as it is believed to flush out toxins from your body resulting in lower stress levels. A Washington Post article on a returned soldier with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) showed that Yoga Nidra helped him relax and cope. He attended a specialized care program in which 120 other service members participated, of which 90% had PTSD. After adding Yoga Nidra to the program, the results were positive. However, more scientific research is yet to be done on it.

Breathe Consciously – Pranayama

Best results are often achieved through consistency and dedication. If not daily, try practicing Pranayama at least as frequently as possible. Some of the most influential and popular breathing techniques are discussed in this section.

  1. Kapal Bhati Pranayama or Skull Shining Breathing: This breathing technique increases the metabolic rate and helps reduce weight. It stimulates the internal organs, thereby assisting in digestion and blood circulation. Sit in a comfortable posture and relax. Close your eyes and inhale deeply using both your nostrils. Exhale in parts by expelling the air with forceful contractions of abdominal muscles. Repeat the process for a minute or more. 
  2. Bhramari Prayanama or Bee Breath: This breathing technique helps lower your blood pressure and aids in releasing cerebral tension. It promotes sound sleep patterns and relieves stress. Sit in a relaxed cross-legged position and close your eyes. Place your palms on your lap and inhale through both your nostrils. Make a buzzing bee sound while exhaling and try to retain the exhale for long. 
  3. Bhastrika Pranayama or Breath of Fire: This breathing technique oxygenates the blood and energizes the entire mind and body. It calms the mind and increases the vitality of the organs. Sit in a cross-legged position and fold your arms to your shoulders and make fists. Inhale and stretch your hands straight up and open your fists. Exert a slight pressure while exhaling and bring back your arms to shoulders and close your fists. Repeat cycles and relax to normal breathing.
  4. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing: A simple yet channelized breathing technique helps you stay more focused and pumps more oxygen to the brain. You can sit comfortably, either in a chair or cross-legged on a Yoga mat. Take a few normal initial breaths to settle in. Now inhale through your left nostril by closing your right nostril with your right thumb. While opening your right nostril, close your left nostril with your right-hand ring finger and exhale through your right nostril. Repeat the cycles with alternate nostrils. 

In addition to Yoga Postures and Pranayama, try meditating for a minimum of 15 minutes every day. It will help you break your thought patterns and place you in a better position to make wiser decisions in life. Eat more fruits and vegetables and try to reduce meat consumption. You are what you eat, and if you are eating only dead animals, you might start to feel like one. Eating meat is fine, but we recommend you stop it, especially when you are going through depression or anxiety. Stay positive and believe that everything will fall in the right place. You have already been through so much; we are sure that you will be able to handle your current situation. If you are suffering from anxiety, remember times when you haven’t. Anxiety has come into your life, so it can go away also. Keep practicing!

Don’t try to treat your anxiety through Yoga. Find a suitable therapist and practice Yoga along.

SriLakshmi and Dr. Rai

Yoga is an art of exercises that lets your body, mind, and soul stretch to their maximum capacity. Yoga wheels are beneficial yoga accessories that enhance the glee of stretching asanas safely. Performing yoga with an aesthetically designed wheel deepens your stretches and increases flexibility. Yoga wheels come with excellent benefits and can take your yoga practice to the next level. You can also use it on your office chair as back support to keep your spine erect and sit in a healthy position. 

This article will discuss yoga wheels, their benefits, how to use a yoga wheel, any disadvantages of yoga wheels, and how to buy the best yoga wheels. Later, we’ll present to you the top 5 best yoga wheels to choose from.

What Is A Yoga Wheel?

It is an incredible therapeutic tool to enhance your yoga practice. It is a round, ring-shaped device made from cork or plastic with foam padding. It comes in different sizes and is used to stretch muscles and boost blood circulation. No matter if you are a beginner or an amateur yogi, you can perform its exercises all by yourself.

Yoga Wheels Benefits

Practicing yoga with wheels has immense physical and health benefits. Some of the essential yoga wheel benefits include:

  • Helps Perform Difficult Stretches Safely: Inversion (a yoga pose when the heart is above the ground compared to the head) and backbend are quite difficult poses to perform. But yoga wheel stretches let you enjoy these poses safely and efficiently.
  • Back Massage: Another attractive benefit is using yoga wheels for back pain and massaging your spine. You can rub a yoga wheel for back pain by lying your back on yoga wheels and using your legs to move up and down. It may also help relieve back pain.
  • Prevents Injury: It provides support while performing various asanas and prevents injuries. It gives you the freedom to stretch to your maximum capacity safely.
  • Improves Flexibility: Adding a yoga wheel to your daily routine helps to gain confidence while stretching. You will get increased flexibility of hip muscles essential for inversions and backbends. 
  • Improves Breathing: Many people work most of their office hours sitting in a chair. It results in a sunken posture. The spine mobility gets reduced, and the body becomes immovable and firmer. Yoga wheels, allowing us to do backbends and increase the body movements, also enhance diaphragm functions, which leads to improved breathing.
  • Improves Stamina: The yoga wheel may also help build your stamina and strength. We recommend you to use it for its immense benefits. 
  • Keep Your Spine Erect: You can put in between your office chair and your back, supporting your back and spine to be erect. It corrects your postures and improves the punching of your back.

How To Choose One Of The Best Yoga Wheels?

You may find many yoga wheels in the market, but only a few are the best. Certain factors separate the ordinary yoga wheels from the best ones. Let’s delve into the features that make a yoga wheel the best yoga wheel for stretching.

Weight Limit

You should pick a wheel for yoga that can withstand double your weight. It must not bend or break while you are sitting and standing on it. However, if you want to do only stretching exercises, you can go for a lower weight limit yoga wheel.

Size

Yoga wheels come in three standard sizes. The mini wheels are suitable for people with petite body structures. The standard wheel should work for all body types.

Material

Yoga wheels are made from cork or ABS Plastic(a thermoplastic polymer). Although ABS plastic may be more durable, it is not eco-friendly. Cork might be expensive than plastic but is more sustainable. Hence, we recommend going for cork yoga wheels because cork is durable, sturdy, and eco-friendly. 

Padding

Foam is a commonly used material for padding. Padding thickness varies from wheel to wheel, and so does the comfort level. Some paddings are odor and sweat resistant. The sweat-absorbing paddings may give an unpleasant smell after some uses.

Grip

It is another essential feature of the yoga wheel. The best yoga wheels for stretching offer a good grip and don’t slip and slide while performing on them.

You can perform many yoga wheel stretches with yoga wheels. It is a perfect stretching tool that can be used to do back ends, headstands, wall stands, knee tucks, planks, etc. You can also perform some balancing exercises on it. Some other exercises and yoga wheel pose include: 

  • Wheel-assisted Child Pose
  • Reclining Easy Pose
  • Wheel-assisted Fish Pose
  • Wheel-assisted Upward-FacingTwo-Foot Staff Pose
  • Wheel-assisted Half Pyramid Pose
  • Wheel-assisted Lizard Lunge
  • Yoga Wheel Crow Pose 

Tips For Better Use Of A Yoga Wheel

  • Start Slow. Take a chill pill and be careful while using a yoga wheel for stretching.  Always do some warm-up exercises before starting.
  • Don’t overstretch. People doing more and more yoga wheels exercises or putting more pressure on their neck may suffer from neck or spine injury.
  •  Stretch carefully and cautiously.
  • Cleaning. Make a habit of cleaning your yoga wheel daily for prolonged durability. You can wipe it with a towel or use a scrub to clean the inner circle and padding. 

Top 6 Yoga Wheels For Healthy Stretching

Now that we’ve learned a lot about yoga wheels, how they can help improve our health in different ways, and how to use a yoga wheel. Let’s go through the top 6 yoga wheels we’ve selected after researching and testing various products through the market.

1. REEHUT Yoga Wheel – Back Pain for Strong Premium Back-Roller, Stretcher with Thick Cushion for Dharma Yoga Pose, Backbend & Stretching

Do you want to enjoy yoga? Of course, you want to. Then we have the solution in the form of a REEHUT yoga wheel. Now you can perform each yoga pose with confidence and ease. It is made from TPE (a recyclable plastic and is generally safe to use) foam and releases stress on you and nature. Provide comfort to your back and hands.

It is 12.6″ (32cm) diameter, 5″ (12.7 cm) wide, and can withstand a weight of around 330 lbs (149.68 kg). Being superlight, therefore, it is travel-friendly 2.86 lb (1.29 kg). You can easily build your flexibility and stamina by stretching your body. The features like anti-skid and sweat-resistant help to enjoy various stretching exercises. 

The wheel comes with anti-bacterial features. So, you are not required to clean the wheels. What are you waiting for, lazy bums! Just grab this yoga wheel and perform various poses with confidence.

Pros

  • Hypoallergenic and skin-friendly
  • Comes with an anti-bacterial coating
  • It can withstand 330 lbs (149,68kg)
  • Reasonable price
  • High on resisting the impact
  • Stable
  • Sweat-resistance material provides optimal grip

Cons

  • Padding may not be a good option for heavy-weight people
  • Might not be very comfortable while using it

2. Pete’s choice Dharma Yoga Wheel- Comfortable & Durable, Increase Flexibility and Ideal Back Stretcher

Dharma wheel for yoga is often the right choice for yoga enthusiasts who are looking for a yoga wheel for back pain. It is one of the right choices for homemakers and office goers. Lightweight and comfy wheels help to relax your body. It offers deep massage to the back and improves posture and balance. 

Dharma wheel for yoga is made from 100 percent top-quality materials. It is hypoallergenic and skin-friendly. The material is safe, impact-resistant, and durable. You can easily challenge yourself to complete the next level of exercise. The regular practice of yoga with wheel will help you to get rid of back pain. You can easily tone your body. The sizes are 13″ (33cm) diameter and 5.1″ (12,95 cm) width

There are different combinations available with yoga straps and yoga blocks. An eco-friendly option in cork is also accessible.

Pros

  • Temperature –resistance
  • Practical strap for providing additional support
  • Sturdy and robust to sustain the weight up to 350 lbs (158,75 kg)
  • Durable and safe
  • Withstand 
  • After the purchase, you will get a free eBook
  • Lifetime warranty, peace of mind guarantee

Cons

  • Not suitable for heavyweight people
  • Some don’t get an ebook (Take initiative and sent them an email)
  • Missing strap in some shipments

3. Shogun Sports Yoga Wheel- Back Pain, Stretching, Improving Flexibility, and Backbends.

A California-based company designs it. It was made for yoga addicts. This fantastic yoga wheel is made for you if you love to challenge yourself. Reach the next level of fitness by adding it to your daily routine. 

It comes with a robust inner core that can withstand up to 500 lbs (226.80 kgs) in weight. The anti-skid padding provides extra safety and comfort. The padding is eco-friendly that offers support to the back so that you can try different poses. 

Also, bacteria-free and sweat-free padding will help to work without any worries of germs. It is a light-weight yoga wheel that can be transported easily. You can select this wheel if you want to build a robust and flexible body.

Pros

  • Perfect to use for both advanced yogis and beginners.
  • The best yoga wheel for back pain
  • Increases flexibility
  • Provides extra support and comfort for performing any type of exercise
  • 60 days money-back guarantee and 1 Year warranty of there are manufacturing defects
  • Designed and made by a US operated company 
  • Suitable for plus size people

Cons

  • Might be too wide
  • Padding is quite thick that can be hard for beginners
  • A few buyers prefer foam rollers

4. ATIVAFIT Sports Yoga Wheel – Back Pain, improve Yoga Poses, Perfect for Stretching, and Improving Flexibility and Backbends

It is an attractive yoga wheel that is curated for providing relief from back pain. It also improves flexibility, balance, and strength of the upper body. Made up of top-quality material and can sustain the approx. 220 lbs (99.80 kgs) of weight. It is available 12” (30.50cm) ,10’’ (25.4cm) and 5’’ (12.7cm) diameter.

You can easily do different poses with the ATIVAFIT yoga wheel. It supports stretching back, chest, and hips. You can also tone your upper body, as well as increasing your core strength. The thick padding protects the body while performing exercises. 

The material is safe, durable, and stable. It is lightweight and portable so you can carry it anywhere. Don’t be conscious of body odor as it is odorless and sweat-resistant. You can also use this yoga wheel to ease the stress from your back. 

Pros

  • Eco-friendly and premium wheel material
  • Affordable
  • Available in different colors
  • Thick padding 0.2” (6mm) provides comfort and support to the back, feet, and palm.
  • Odorless and sweat-resistant material
  • Money-back guarantee if you are not happy
  • Very light, it weighs about 2.2 lbs (1kg)

Cons

  • We found it to be wobbly

5. URBNFit Yoga Wheel & Strap Set – Designed for Dharma Yoga Wheel Pose – for Stretching and Increased Flexibility

This Wheel comes with a strap, as an addition, to perfect your Yogic experience. The manufacturer URBNFit has great confidence in their product, which is the reason they are giving you lifetime guarantee. It measures around 12” (30.48 cm) in diameter and can withstand 500 lbs (226.79 kg). Made from anti-flex PVC material. It is quite durable and sturdy. And it comes with a free guide that is beneficial for beginners. 

It offers a good option for people who want to increase the flexibility of the body. Also, it helps to perform different stretching exercises. 

Pros

  • Comes with a user guide
  • Sweat-resistant and soft foam
  • Lifetime money-back guarantee 
  • It’s a yoga wheel and strap set combo
  • Well built
  • Affordable 

Cons

  • It is less durable, according to the customer’s reviews.
  • Some customers have experienced the issue of wheel snapping
  • The shipments are missing the strap

6. UpCircleSeven Yoga Wheel Set – Strongest & Most Comfortable, Back Pain and Stretching

If you are confused about sizes, then you can go for this fantastic yoga wheelset. It has three different sizes that help to perform various poses. It is the right choice as each wheel can support approximately 550 lbs (250 kg approx) of weight. It comes with a full padded from the exterior. 

Three different sizes are 12” (30.50cm) ,10’’ (25.4cm) and 6’’(15.24cm) diameter. It is recommended to start with the large yoga wheel. They don’t bend or flex with pressure. The set is the best choice as compared to the foam roller. It is light in weight and comes with a sweat-wicking feature. 

Additionally, it comes with a money-back guarantee, returns, and full refund. So, this is one of the great yoga wheels that you can go for!

Pros

  • It has three yoga wheels of different sizes.
  • Has thick padding outside for extra comfort
  • Comes in attractive colors
  • Efficient and works better than a foam roller
  • Sturdy!
  • Lightweight
  • Comes with a Yoga Wheel Guide PDF including 18 poses
  • Excellent customer service, 30 days money back if you are not happy

Cons

  • Few customers have reported peeling of rubber
  • Exercises for the 6” (15.24cm) wheel in the PDF are missing
  • Might be too expensive

Conclusion: Our Pick For The Winner

The yoga wheel exercises can hugely influence the overall mental and physical health. Also, it is quite essential to use the tool in the right manner. It helps to increase yoga practice and perform complicated poses. You can also get rid of body pain, improve strength, balance, and flexibility. 

Our choice for the best yoga wheel is UpCircleSeven Yoga Wheel Set. It helps to strengthen abs, upper body parts, and lower body parts. It is available in three sizes and various colors. Its thick padding with sweat-resistant features provides extra comfort and cushion. It is one of the strongest of its kind.

Therefore, we recommend you go for the UpCircleSeven Yoga wheelset. You will be able to perform all kinds of stretching exercises. It is quite comfortable and easy to use. It also provides excellent value for money. The yoga wheel is becoming quite popular among yogis. It is one of the best tools to increase yoga practice. 

Sri Lakshmi

Be careful when you perform the Bhujangasana, better known as the cobra pose. You might notice your body becoming serpent-like, suddenly your hair will turn into multiple snakes, and your gaze will turn everyone into stone… Okay, let’s stop being overdramatic. Of course, performing the cobra pose won’t turn you into Medusa! Although Yoga might be older than the story of Medusa or Greek Mythology in general.

Bhujangasana Or Cobra Pose – Origin And Significance

Bhujangasana is the Sanskrit term for asana Yoga, alternatively known as cobra pose. Bhujangasana is a highly regarded Yoga cobra position, first outlined in the Gheranda Samhita (better known as Gherandas collection and one of the ancient texts of Hatha yoga cobra pose), one of the three classical Hatha Yoga scriptures of the 17th century. Chapter 2 of this manuscript identifies thirty-two asanas for strengthening the body, out of which the cobra pose is the penultimate pose. 

Reflective of its name, traditional scriptures say that Bhujangasana or cobra pose boosts body heat. When the body’s heat is freed to rise through the repeated practice of meditation and Yoga, it creates a sense of liberation. Its significance is also seen in the illustrations of the Buddha with a cobra placed above his head, marking his enlightened state.

Cobra Pose – Scientific Significance

Yoga masters or teachers recommend the mastery of one asana, i.e., the cobra pose. Performing Pranayama (a powerful yogic breathing technique) precisely and in a peaceful and quiet environment, the muscles and joints relax. The soothing impulses return to the brain and unwind.

Other benefits include mental wellbeing, better health, and fearlessness of mind. Bhujangasana aims to reinforce the spine and stretches everything between the navel and the chin. Even a little time spent in Bhujangasana counts for a lot to reduce stress and anxiety in particular.

The cobra pose expands the shoulders and the neck, stretches the muscle fibers in the shoulders and chest, and strengthens the arms. It can be considerably effective at relieving distress in the back, neck, and abdominal muscles.

One of the significant advantages of Bhujangasana is that it greatly improves blood circulation. Yoga Cobra pose is perceived to be one of the best asanas to have a flat stomach.

Which Muscles Benefit From The Cobra Pose

  1. Trapezius: The Trapezius muscle extends from the back of the head down to the shoulder blade.Trapezius is partly responsible for the movement of the head and the neck.
  2. Hamstring: The three long muscles that run along the back of the thigh are the hamstring muscles. They stretch the hip, bend the knee, and rotate the lower leg. In the cobra pose, the hamstrings in the hip extension of the pose are the focal point.
  3. Erector Spinae:  It is a collection of muscles and tendons in the back that regulate the extension and rotation of the spine. Because they are responsible for straightening the spine, the resilience of the erector spinae muscles is closely linked to the yoga cobra pose. 
  4. Abdominal muscles- Rectus abdominis: The abdominals are found in the lower abdomen between the ribs and the pelvis. They govern the pelvis tilting and the lower spine curve. Engaging the transversus abdominis muscle (one of the muscles in the belly) during the cobra pose stabilizes the spine.

Benefits Of Bhujangasana Or Cobra Pose 

It is one of the uncommon exercises that benefit the whole body from the toes to the head and improves physical and mental health. The most appreciative point is that it does not necessitate any specific types of tools to be conducted and can be accomplished in-home within a minute. Given below are some benefits of incorporating the yoga cobra stretch in your daily fitness routine:

  • Works On And Strengthens Your Spine: 

As the yoga Cobra position is useful in helping your back with a good lengthening, it is very beneficial in strengthening your spine. It is designed to stretch the lower and upper areas of your back. But if you have chronic back pain, consulting a doctor is recommended to make sure you do not have any potential side effects.

research paper was published on the influence of postures, especially Cobra Pose, and its effects on a hormonal level. It was only done on seven men and one woman in the age between 22-50 years. The results showed an increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol. Therefore it might help in anxiety. 

  • Might Improve Circulation Of Oxygenated Blood:

Good circulation of blood is the key to staying productive and invigorated. One of the major advantages of Bhujangasana is that it significantly improves blood circulation. Once you’ve got your blood flowing, your cells will have enough nutrients and oxygen. Improved circulation of blood will also help restore hormonal balance.

  • May relieve Shooting Pains Caused By Sciatica (Back pain caused by having issues with a nerve in the lower back) :

The deformation of the sciatic nerve causes pain in the legs or is generally recognized as tight soft muscles. The only solution to this problem is expanding flexibility and lengthening the spinal cord to alleviate the pressure off the soft tissues. Yoga cobra stretch is the most helpful for healing this pain and plays a vital role in gentle spinal straining. For those who are enduring this problem, cobra stretch is the perfect cure for it. However, for Yogis, which had or have a Spinal Canal Stenosis (Congestion of spinal canal), which is the cause of this sciatic pain, we recommend to speak with their doctor or physiotherapist before doing this pose. Extension in Spinal Canal can worsen the pain!

  • Could Be Supportive If You Are Suffering Under Dysmenorrhea Better Known As Painful Menstrual Cramps:

As a woman, I don’t have to tell you when your monthlies arrive. Meanwhile, you are lying in your bed with a hot-water bottle, trying to ease your pain and showing your nails and fangs to the world. In this study, conducted on 92 female students (18-22 years), it has been highlighted that performing the cobra pose, along with cat and fish poses, reduced the pain and span of primary dysmenorrheaSo it might help you if you perform the Asanas regularly.

  • It Might Be Helpful In Losing Belly Fat:

It is well-known that the yoga pose helps to burn belly fat. Retaining the pose for a prolonged time provides the entire abdominal region with appropriate stretching. The metabolic processes in the body are also regulated, and it helps to resolve weight and obesity issues. Not only does it solve weight problems, but it is also helpful for a flat stomach.

  • Maybe Good For Therapeutic Neck And Back Pain:

One often feels pain or discomfort in their neck and shoulder regions after a difficult, hectic day. If you want to relieve the strain from the neck and the back region and put some pressure off, exercise the cobra stretch. With this, we can find the solution to Yoga cobra pose back pain queries that people search over the internet. The cobra stretch is the most appropriate option for you to loosen all your muscles, mainly the back ones.

  • Might Work On The Digestive System:

Regular cobra workout practice promotes gastric juice efflux, which acts on challenges such as indigestion, constipation, etc. The yoga asana also provides the gastrointestinal tract a soothing massage by flexing the frontal plane, promoting the ideal working of abdominal organs.

  • Can Be Helpful For Asthmatic Patients (Under Strict Supervision):

Yoga cobra pose ensures an optimal expansion of the chest and lungs. It mainly helps in expanding the inner region of the lungs. That it might be helpful for Asthma is also listed in this research paper. Lung expansion prevents asthmatic incidents and other problems with breathing. 

  • Could Tone Your Upper And Lower Body:

In cobra stretch, as you contour your back, the spine receives a decent stretch, helping to strengthen the spinal column. Also, it strengthens and tones the biceps, triceps, chest, shoulders, deltoid muscles and firms and tones the buttocks, leading to a great, healthy physical structure.

When To Perform This Asana?

Bhujangasana requires you to sleep on your stomach to perform this pose. It also necessitates a body to do a lot of contorting and bending. Therefore, make sure that you conduct a cobra pose on an empty stomach. Practicing Yoga on an empty stomach is the best way to get the most from a yoga practice. This includes eating the last big meal 4 hours before, with the option of a quick snack up to 1 hour before. A quick snack counts as something light, like a salad or fruit.

Doing yoga positions removes energy from digestion since that energy is now consumed by bending and twisting and constant inhalation and exhalation. It means that your body doesn’t process vitamins and minerals fully, and food might get stuck instead of moving along. It could leave you painfully bloated or gaseous.

Early morning is the best recommended time to perform this asana since your body is rejuvenated, and most benefits can be squeezed out of this asana. Choose a calm and peaceful environment, where early morning sunlight and air can penetrate, preferably on a terrace or in a backyard.

10 to 15 minutes and 5 to 6 repetitions of the asana are enough, do not overexert any muscle that may cause you irritation later.

When To Avoid Performing Cobra Pose?

There are various situations when one should avoid performing a cobra pose or perform it under expert guidance. Such situations are elaborated on below.

  • Individuals suffering from severe back problems related to the spinal column must be discouraged to practice the yoga pose.
  • Should your neck problems be related to spondylitis (Inflammatory arthritis affecting the spine and large joints) should avoid this yoga pose as well.
  • Pregnant women should not practice this yoga position as a great deal of pressure is noticed in the lower abdomen. It can also lead to injuries if the stance of the arms is not accurate in this posture.
  • Avoid exercising Bhujangasana Yoga if you have broken ribs or wrists or have recently undergone abdominal surgery, such as a hernia.
  • Also, discourage doing Bhujangasana if you are suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome causes intense pain, tingling, and loss of feeling in your hand due to median nerve stress in your wrist.
  • Patients with severe Asthma might also avoid these postures and work on breathing exercises through Pranayama before actually trying the cobra pose.

How To Initiate Cobra Pose?

Start with Sukshma Vyayam (a small warm-up before Yoga) or slight exercises to initiate your practice. These include a delicate rotation of the neck, arms, wrists, hips, and ankles to warm up the joints steadily.

Before starting with any Yoga asana, which involves muscles, warm up your muscles, i.e., take a walk, some light standing exercises that mobilize your muscles. Do not tire your muscles and joints.

This will prepare your body for a workout and keep you safe from injuries associated with exercise. Make sure your body is adequately warmed up before you try any back-bending stances. 

Steps Involving Cobra Pose

  1. Lie Face Down Flat On Your Belly On The Mat

Your legs ought to be flat on the ground, and your hands must be flat on either side of you. Extend your back legs, the tops of your feet on the ground. Stretch your hands under your shoulders on the mat. Hug your elbows into your body.

TIP: If you have a trivial backache due to stiffness of muscle and not any other reason, make a gap of 1-2 feet between the legs. Also, in this pose, your toes must never be tucked underneath you.

  1. Press Onto The Floor With Both Hands

You need your palms to be marginally lower than your shoulder, so your fingertips are nearly just below the muscles of your shoulder. Spread your fingers and uniformly push your palms into the floor. At this level, you will be only a few inches off the floor, with your spine mostly still straight.

TIP: Relax, close your eyes, and steadily but deeply, inhale and exhale once. Envision the stability of the top of your pelvis, thighs, and feet. Imagine that portion is now rooted to the ground.

  1. Start Pulling Your Shoulders Back

On an inhalation, start straightening your arms to hoist your chest off the floor, only heading to a height at which you can stay connected to your legs through your pubis. Your arms must be stood up straight, and this should not feel uncomfortable. Stretch and broaden your stretch to establish an elegant arc in your back.

TIP: Instead of trying to exert yourself to gain altitude and risk overtaking the spine, use the length in your legs and back. Let your buttocks be semi-relaxed.

  1. Maintain The Asana Or Position For 15 To 20 Seconds

Before discharging gently to the floor or stretching back further for another round, attempt to keep the cobra pose for five full breaths, release the pose instantly if you begin to feel discomfort or tightness in your back.

Keep your neck completely balanced. Don’t pump it up. Your gaze is supposed to stay on the ceiling, i.e., upwards. Gradually come to the initial position with a deep exhalation following the same steps backward.
If you practice regularly, try to stretch your arms fully so they become straight.

If you practice regularly, try to stretch your arms fully, so they become straight.

TIP: Ensure your elbows proceed to hug your sides. Never let them tail out on either corner. You can use variations and adjustments to make this pose more effective for you, whether you’re a newbie or an advanced practitioner.

If You Are A Newbie To Cobra Pose

If you are very unbending, we suggest that you practice this asana with the help of a prop instead of doing this position on the ground. Brace a sturdy folding chair against a wall, place your hands on the front edge of the seat, the balls of your legs on the floor, and then try this pose. 

If Cobra Stretch Poses Challenge For You 

A delicate variation that involves only the back muscles is the Yoga baby cobra pose. Elevate the palms off the mat so they’re less than an inch (2.5 cm) above it. 

Using just the back, lift the shoulders and chest and interact with your thighs and abdomen to avoid tightness for a mini backbend.

To reduce pressure in the lower back, spread the feet farther apart. If staring up triggers strain in your neck or spine, retain your gaze ahead.

If You Want To Try More Advanced Pose And Test Your Limits 

To confront your balance while you’re in the cobra pose, bend your right knee and snatch your right-hand ankle for half a frog pose. Hold on for five breaths, relax, and repeat the process. Grab your ankle with your flip side for an even greater challenge.

Only advance to a deeper backbend if the cobra pose is easy for you and you’re looking for something a little more challenging.

Precautions To Be Taken While Performing The Cobra Pose

  • Stretch Is Not About How High You Can Bend 

The cobra pose is not about how high you can lift but rather about your spinal extension. To produce a stunning, even arc, peel yourself off the ground one vertebra at a time. 

There might be a case where a yoga cobra pose hurts the lower back if you’ve come up very high. In such cases, you should lower a few inches (or cm) to avoid grinding your lower back as it can cause shooting back pain if your arc is converting into more of an L-shape.

  • Properly Position The Hands To Avoid Pulling Major Muscles 

Before you raise your head and chest from the mat, make sure your hands are properly positioned. Your hands are supposed to be next to your chest and under your shoulders.

  • Clenching The Buttocks 

There is a compulsion to squeeze the buttocks in Bhujangasana, as the backbend does not happen easily to the body. Save your energy and relax your glutes.

  • Not Using Hips To Lift The Ground 

Cobra pose uses the glutes to hold the lift rather than the arms and legs. While maintaining your hips on the floor, use your back muscles instead of brute arm strength to lift your upper body.
Stop right before your hips get off the floor, do not exert the arc beyond your capacity.

Conclusion

Try to alter your point of view when practicing the cobra pose. Feel the air filling your chest as you rise against the force of gravity. In a quest to reach ease amid endeavor, reduce anxiety in your arms. You will find the power to hold the cobra pose with a simple, slow breath only via surrender. Let this process help you to remove anxiety. It is recommended that you inculcate the cobra pose as well as many other more daunting poses in your practice.

Sri Lakshmi and Dr. Mishra

Are you sitting at your desk for prolonged working hours daily? Do you wake up to body or muscle stiffness every morning? If yes, then Yoga Backbend Poses could be an excellent relief for your lifestyle. I found these muscle stretching and relaxing exercises helpful in gaining and maintaining my body flexibility. After a bike accident and maternity issues, my body had various changes, and back pain became a chronic issue. Under the instructor’s guidance, I got to know about these beautiful stretching exercises and felt much relieved. Read on to know more!

What are Yoga Backbend Poses?

Yoga Backbend Poses, or heart-opening poses, are exercises that stretch your frontal body by curving your spine backward at different degrees. They are also referred to as “front body stretches,” as they stretch your front by contracting the back muscles. The spine supports our body and bears the entire weight during all our daily activities, and is prone to a lot of stress in our fast-paced lifestyles, often involving a lot of sitting. Several medical studies have shown connections between stress level and back pain, especially chronic low back pain. 

During stress, the muscles in the body tighten up. When they remain in this stressed position continuously and do not get the chance to relax, they might start several muscle pains in the body, e.g., Headache, Neck pain, Backache, etc., which might lead to a very unhealthy tendency of leaving the exercise altogether and getting refuge with the pain medicines. It’s needless to mention that those medicines have many side effects. Therefore, I would suggest you try and understand a little more detail about the Yoga Backbend Poses and try incorporating these exercises into your routine. You might start finding some added comfort and could even find relief from some old aches, if any. According to research papers, it will also help posture correction, which is the root cause of chronic back pain in many individuals. Chronic poor posture may also lead to more severe spine problems like disc herniation and straightening of the spine.

Who can do it?

Ideally, the Yoga Backbend poses are a sequence of exercises. The benefits of yoga backbend poses are for all age groups. So let’s understand how it would help individuals of different age groups. The general rules of yoga apply here too. Do it on an empty stomach or at least 3-4 hours after a meal. Doing it in the open in the morning has traditionally been considered the best. However, no time is the wrong time for yoga.

Kids

Most kids carry a heavy backpack loaded with books every day to school. It can leave a long-term impact on their young spines. Adopting the backbend exercises from a very young age might help them strengthen their backs and develop a correct posture and improve flexibility. The competitive academics and exams also create a sense of fear and stress by activating the sympathetic nervous system, which results in a build-up of tension in the neck and shoulders of our kid’s Torticollis (is having trouble with muscles surrounding your neck, which makes it tilt down) – can be caused by acute neurological /psychological condition, but does not happen due to chronic stress.

If you think your child may be suffering from this, these poses will be of great help. The muscles around the shoulders and neck would be relaxed when you stretch your front body in the right way.

Teenagers

Teenage is a period where hormones play a significant role and bring in many physical and behavioral changes. The transition from being a kid to growing into an adult can cause stress with added external pressures and expectations from the teachers and parents on the educational front. Peer pressure is no less too. Having emotional alertness with great energy and a flexible body would be every teenager’s dream. Unfortunately, low flexibility results in lesser participation in athletics that in turn leads to even lower flexibility. Do you see a vicious cycle there? Increasing the flexibility by these Backbend Poses can break this cycle. Enjoy the magic.

Adults

Young adults could be called adventure seekers too. Don’t you love to explore and experiment? What if a backache is stopping you? Or what if your body is not flexible for that adventurous ‘outing’? It’s disheartening to realize that all you need is to include these back stretching and strengthening poses. Try these Yoga Backbends and get adventurous. Consider using a gym ball or a backbend wheel initially but try to let go of it soon. (PS- Sitting on a gym ball instead of a chair leads to burning more calories and also gives you a better back)

Middle-Aged

Rush, Rush, and Rush is what describes the life of a middle-aged person. With the responsibility of our loving family and the desire to fulfill all their material wants, the middle-aged individuals get to work early, get the promotion ASAP and finally get back home early to spend time with their kids. It might even be hard to take a moment and breathe with the cutthroat competitions, family responsibilities, and racing lifestyles. Do you ever find time to see yourself in the mirror or even realize you have a poor back posture and have a chronic backache bothering you? I bet your answer is YES. Research from Hong Kong with 772,927 subjects found that the prevalence of back pain is much higher in our ladies than in men. Balancing between the roles of a mother, a wife, and the master manager can be overwhelming. Of all things you do for the family leaves no time for those long exercise sessions or relaxing and taking care of that back pain. These relaxing poses that might help you balance your stress while opening your heart and stretching the back muscles are worth trying to keep yourself on track for all the amazing work you do. Yoga Backbend Poses could be your solution, don’t miss out!

Aged Folks

I would say old age is the best age if you can stay healthy and fit. The worries and responsibilities would be off your shoulder. You would have bagged up a little of your savings and can enjoy some leisure time now. All you need is your body to cooperate physically and the zeal to explore life. Have you found it challenging to pick up your grandchildren? Are you missing out on playing with those little bundles of joy because of the back pain that started years ago when you built this world of abundance for your family and a prosperous community? Here you are with a secret that would allow you to enjoy all of it. All you might have to do is to push yourself to practice these Backbend Poses to maintain a stable back and stable health. Research shows that individuals who can prevent these back pains until the age of 65 are more likely to be pain-free for the rest of their lives. Many kinds of research have shown a strong connection between back pain and the inability to exercise. Other research has shown that regular exercise leads to longevity and happiness. In the starting, consider using a backbend wedge or a  non-skid gym ball under your belly to avoid slips and inadvertent overstretching. Make sure it is a non-skid gym ball. We are committed to relieve your back pain and help you exercise.

Who can’t do it?

The Yoga Backbend Sequence is advisable and is suitable for both the young and old alike. We would still recommend you stay away from these exercises if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • If you have a heart condition or ailment
  • If you have any prior spinal injuries
  • If you have back pain due to an orthopedic condition
  • If you have high blood pressure
  • If you have undergone recent surgery
  • If you are pregnant, or if you are menstruating

What are the scientific benefits?

Yoga as a form of exercise has numerous scientific benefits. Backbend Sequences form an essential part of yoga practice. Several research studies have shown benefits for people suffering from poor posture, chronic lower back pain, limited range of motion (ROM) of the back, Arthritis, primary dysmenorrhea, short attention span, and cognitive limitations. On the regular practice of the Backbend Poses, you might benefit from the following:

  • Improve your body balance and control
  • Strengthen your body muscles
  • Gain flexibility (Thighs, Hip Flexors, Upper Torso, Back, and Abdominal Wall)
  • Improve your paraspinal muscle strength and movement
  • Develop a better back posture
  • Relax and open your chest and shoulders (they stretch the pectorals, the deltoids, the intercostals, and the rotator cuff group)
  • Better shoulder stance 
  • Enhance your mental alertness
  • Alleviate pain over the long run
  • Improve your energy levels and feel rejuvenated
  • Pain relief in Arthritis
  • Pain relief during menstruation  
  • Longevity

Remember that you can enrich the effect of these poses when you consciously practice them with the appropriate breathing techniques.

Beginner Backbend Poses

Prepare your body before jumping into the Backbend exercises. Sit and relax and take some deep breaths while understanding and feeling how your body feels each day. Respect your body and have an awareness of the signs it displays. Once you feel ready, start with a few basic poses mentioned below.

  1. Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose

Lie downward facing with the hands under the shoulders, chin down, and legs together. Slightly stretch back by lifting the head and chest off the floor and keeping the gaze straight. Engage the core muscles and maintain the pubic bone down into the floor. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and try to focus on your neck and spine alignment. You should feel the pose through the strength of the back muscles and not entirely from your hands. The Cobra Pose opens the chest and aligns the spine. It stimulates the nervous system while strengthening the core body.

  1. Dhanurasana or Bow Pose

The Bow Pose is slightly tricky if you are a beginner but can be achieved gradually. Lie down on your stomach and focus on your core by holding your feet with your hands. Maintain the knees at the hip level from the ground and maintain the body of the floor. The Bow Pose tones the internal organs of your body. You can experience a stretch in the entire front portion of your body, including the hip flexors, thighs, ankles, shoulders, chest, and throat.

  1. Balasana or Child Pose

This basic and beginner-level pose is easy and comfortable amongst all the other Backbend Poses. Fold your legs backward and sit on your knees. Stretch your feet outward and keep your knees hip-width apart. Stretch and bend your torso downward on the floor, positioning it between the knees. Extend your arms outward at shoulder distance and align with your torso. The Child Pose improves blood circulation in the body. It alleviates back and neck pain and profoundly relaxes the shoulder and the chest. It lengthens the spine and stretches the muscles in the lower back and the inner thighs. It relieves tension in the tail bone and keeps it supple.

  1. Ustrasana or Camel Pose

Kneel and keep your back straight by positioning your knees hip-width apart. Position your hands on the back and slowly try to bend backward. Bring your shoulder joints closer at the back. Look upwards and reach your ankles and hold them with your hands (thumbs facing outward and fingers inward) for support. Alternatively, if you are a beginner and find it difficult to reach your ankles, try using Yoga Blocks or Yoga Bricks. Place the Yoga Blocks next to your ankles at the desired height, and then gradually try reaching your ankles once you are comfortable with the pose. The Camel Pose also stimulates the respiratory, nervous, and circulatory systems.

  1. Marjariasana or Cat Stretch Pose

Kneel on all fours that are your hands and legs positioned at shoulder and hip-width apart. Stretch your feet outward and place your palms on the floor straight under your shoulders. Lift your chin slightly up and bend down your navel a little into the ground while inhaling. Push your tailbone up at the time you have arch your back. Now return with a countermovement, bring your chin down, droop your tailbone, and extend the back upward, forming an inverted ‘C’ with the floor. Hold and repeat in sets. The Cat Stretch Pose strengthens your spine and makes it flexible. It releases stress and tension built in the back and neck. It also improves your blood circulation.

  1. Salabhasana or Locust Pose

The Locust Pose is yet another basic and beginner-level pose that warms up your body for deeper backbends as you practice it over a period. It appears to be much simpler, but you will find it like a task if you have body rigidity. Lie downward facing and rest your forehead on the floor. Stretch your arms backward alongside the torso and place your palms facing upward. Rotate your thighs inward and bring your toes slightly closer. Exhale and try to lift your head, arms, legs, and chest up from the floor. Feel the stretch throughout and hold the ribs, pelvis, and belly onto the floor. Relax and repeat in sets. The Locust Pose strengthens the pelvic floor, abdomen, deltoids, triceps, hips, and buttocks. It also stretches the spine and helps maintain flexibility and posture.

Take it easy

Don’t be in a hurry with this Asana, and push your flexibility limits slowly. Your time will come when you impress everyone with back bending abilities in a Yoga class or crab walk down the staircase as the girl in the exorcist movie. Overdoing the exercise can harm your back, so always take it easy. Always remember to breathe and stretch!

Summary

Yoga Backbend Poses could be your answer to stress and fatigue while alleviating some old pains in the body. Try to stretch the right way, stay conscious and focus on the proper breathing techniques to reap the best benefits for your body. Always listen to your body and don’t push it way beyond as you might end up in injuries. Enjoy these beautiful beginner-level backbends Poses to start with and gradually adopt the variants and deeper poses. Seek out a medical practitioner for guidance if you have any medical history or recent surgeries, or any other ailments before experimenting on any of these poses at home all by yourself. Stay physically flexible, mentally alert, and live a happy life. Most back pains result from the excessive strains, long hours of sitting, and poor posture that we subject our backs to. 

So remember that You are the Cause, and You are the Cure.

Sri Lakshmi, Devina and Dr. Mishra

Pin It