Tag

Health

Browsing

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

“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

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

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

It’s time to get out your yoga mat and uncover the unique combination of physical and mental activities that have enthralled yoga practitioners all over the world for thousands of years. Yoga’s elegance is that you don’t have to be a yogi or yogini to experience its positivity. Yoga can calm the mind and strengthen the body, whether young or old, chubby or fit. Don’t be put off by yoga terminology, pricey yoga studios, or challenging poses. One such pose you can try is Downward Facing Dog. Everyone can benefit from this pose. You’ve already heard that Downward Facing Dog is beneficial to your fitness. Perhaps you’ve even tried it and found that it helps you feel better. Trying this pose has many mental and physical health benefits. Some benefits, such as increased versatility, are immediately noticeable.

Downward-Facing Dog Pose, also known as Adho Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit, is a famous yoga pose that strengthens the core and improves circulation. This energizing pose provides a delicious, full-body massage.

Downward Facing Dog is a full-body stretch that opens up the backline and is relaxing and energizing. Adho Mukha Svanasana resembles how a dog appears when it bends over.

As a beginner, you can focus on learning Downward Facing Dog Pose. A Downward Dog a day, they claim, keeps the doctor away. This asana has a plethora of incredible benefits that make it imperative that you perform it daily. The best part is that even a complete novice can master this asana with ease.

Steps To Do Downward Facing Dog

This pose can be done anywhere a yoga mat can be laid out. Downward Facing Dog, when done correctly, will provide a delicious stretch to your entire body. This yoga pose reinforces your arms and legs while also assisting you in bringing energy to your whole body. However, downward Facing Dog’s advantages are also negated when done without the knowledge of alignment, as it can irritate wrists and tight back muscles.

It is why it’s crucial to learn how to adapt the Downward Facing Dog pose to fit your needs. Remember that yoga asanas are about function rather than shape and that everyone’s Downdog can vary slightly based on their anatomical and physiological limits.

  1. Begin in Child’s Pose, with your toes tucked under and your arms fully extended in front of you. Hold the Child’s place with your feet, then diagonally push your pelvis upwards until your body forms an inverted V shape.
  2. Bend your knees as much as you need to, and don’t stress if your heels don’t hit the floor. This isn’t the point of this pose! The aim is to raise your sit bones and open up the back of your body and the area around your shoulders. When they’re ready, the heel will come right down.
  3. Start with your hands to check your alignment. Push down through the mound of your index and thumb with your fingers spread wide. Make sure your wrists aren’t flexed to 90 degrees and that you’re pushing your weight up and back to relieve pressure on your wrists.
  4. To find space around your upper back and chest, try externally rotating your upper arms. Your forearms should feel like they’re pushing against each other. Working your shoulder blades down your spine and then around to the side ribs is an excellent way to start.
  5. Work your way up to your spine, lengthening the space between your vertebrae as you go. Make sure your pelvis is turned forward as you hit it to help raise your sit bones higher. It could help if you picture your pelvis as a bowl of water from which you’re almost spilling water on the concrete.
  6. To engage your thighs, hug your thigh muscles to the thigh bones. Next, pull the thigh bones up into the sockets of your hips. From within, rotate your thighs while keeping your feet straight ahead and in line with your hips’ width. Your eyes should be in between your legs while doing downward dog.
  7. Keep your abdomen stimulated but soft by hollowing out your midsection but not holding your breath. Finally, if your feet are flat on the floor, raise your toes for a few breaths before lowering them.

And although Adho Mukha Svanasana (aka Downward Dog) is in pretty much every yoga session, right from the first lesson you go to, it is anything but a simple pose. I am constantly grappling with Downward-Facing Dog — and I have been practicing yoga for more than a decade!

The most challenging aspect of this pose for me is that no matter how hard I try to lengthen my hamstrings, they remain tight. In Down Dog, this causes my lower back to round, so it feels like I’m still trying to find the natural curves of my spine.

Maintaining spine length is more critical than maintaining straight legs. So if you find yourself cracking your back or slouching your shoulders, it’s okay to keep your knees bent as often as you need to savor the flexibility in your back. Also, remember that your heels don’t have to touch the ground!

Start with this position – For Beginners:

You can practice the pose against a wall to improve it. Stand about a meter/3 feet away from the wall, with your legs hip-length apart. Put your hands up against the wall and use the same arm rotation as in the steps above. Next, move your arms and torso down the wall until they are parallel to the ground.

WHICH JOINTS ARE STIMULATED WHILE DOING DOWNWARD DOG POSE?

Let’s start by looking at how your joints move in this asana. A lot is going on in the joints of the upper limbs when the spine is in axial extension: raising and upward movement of the scapulae (shoulder blades).

  • Shoulder flexion is a term that refers to the movement of the shoulder blades
  • The elbows are extended
  • The forearms are pronated
  • Wrist dorsiflexion is a term used to describe the action of bending the wrists backward.

The spinal extensors and flexor muscles are the key players in Downward Dog because they help you keep your spine aligned. There are also many engaged in the upper limbs to assist you in maintaining your alignment. 

It strengthens your arms, neck, and legs while stretching your hamstrings, shoulders, calves, arches, hands, and back. This pose is classified as a mild inversion since your heart is higher than your head. 

It provides all of the advantages of inversions: Headaches, insomnia, exhaustion, and slight depression are all mitigated. Blood flow to the brain also helps relax the nervous system, enhance brain function, and reduce stress.

Cautions Before Practicing This Pose:

If you have severe carpal tunnel syndrome or are pregnant in the third trimester, avoid Downward-Facing Dog. 

Those with back, arm, or shoulder injuries and those with high blood pressure, eye, or inner ear infections should avoid it. Always stay within your capabilities and boundaries. Before doing yoga, consult your doctor if you have any medical problems.

Look Out For These Common Mistakes While Performing:

  1. The most common mistake beginners make in Downward Facing Dog is not releasing their heels towards the ground. The direction of the pose moves forward instead of the back while you’re on the balls of your feet. If you don’t put your weight back into your shoes, it won’t be a resting spot. It does not imply that the heels must be touching the ground; instead, they must be traveling in that direction. With continuous practice and assistance, one can surely master this pose.
  2. Bend your knees and come up onto the balls of your feet for a minute to get your bottom in the right place. Bring your sit bones up high and your belly to rest on your thighs. Then, while maintaining the high outward rotation of the sit bones, drop your heels and straighten your legs. Spread your fingertips and bring your hands marginally forward of your shoulders, with your middle finger attempting to point forward.
  3. If you are flexible enough, avoid allowing your rib cage to sag into the floor, resulting in sinking your spine, also known as a banana back. Instead, maintain a flat back by drawing the ribs in.
  4. To get a good grip, spread your fingers out. Don’t dismiss the abilities of each of your fingers, particularly your thumb and index fingers. They appear to be strong supporters of this asana.
  5. The gap between the feet may be an issue as well. Students sometimes take them too broadly, near the mat’s edge, or too short, touching each other. Instead, your feet should be hip-width apart, leaving about 6 inches (15cm) of space between them, based on your height. Again, you’ll have a strong base for this pose if you set up your feet right, release your heels, and hold your buttocks high.

Remember:

  • Often, keep an eye on the space between your hands: if it is broader than the distance between your elbows, this will trigger neck and shoulder tension. Instead, to find independence, extend your shoulders.
  • Your Downward-Facing Dog would be bunched up, with very little space between your hands and paws, if your hamstring muscles are stiff and you want to hit the floor with your heels. This will cause the lower back to round and place pressure on it. So instead, wake up with Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose to comfortably lengthen the hamstrings, then practice Down Dog with bent knees.
  • Do not hold your hands out. When you do this, you risk destabilizing your hands when friction is applied to the outside wrists.
  • If your hands fall out of this place, you risk injuring your face. Wet your palms with 2-3 drops of water for better grip.
  • If you have tight hips, Use these blocks under your foot to lend yourself some additional height and relieve stress on your hips. You may also use a block to help support the forehead.

Modified Downward Dog Pose

For Beginners:

If your hamstrings are incredibly tight, you may not be able to hold your buttocks high while still straightening your legs. If that’s the case, a slight bend in your knees is appropriate. With regular practice of other poses, the hamstrings can lengthen over time.

To do a therapeutic version of the pose, put a yoga block under your head. You may also put a block under your hands or a rolled towel under your wrists for extra comfort.

Try The Puppy Dog Pose:

The puppy pose is a gentle backbend that combines the downward-facing dog with a child’s pose.

  • Your hips should be directly over your knee caps, and your shoulders should be directly over your wrists. Toes gesturing straight back, place the tops of your feet on the mat. Maintain a hip-width distance between your feet.
  • Begin walking your hands out in front of you as you exhale. As you slowly release your forehead to the floor, enable your chest to melt toward the floor.
  • Spread your fingers out and firmly press your thumb and index fingers together.
  • To widen your shoulders, roll your upper arm bones outward away from your ears. As your forearms spin up toward the ceiling, feel your triceps wrap down toward the mat’s outer rim. Lift your elbows slightly off the mat and keep your arms active.
  • Deepen the extension by attaining your hips up and back towards the wall behind you on your next breath; in the meantime, continue to let your chest melt downward.
  • Inhale deeply and hold the stretch for 5–10 breaths.
  • Return your hands to the Tabletop position to exit the pose.

Remember:

Allowing the front ribs to stick out dramatically and/or allowing the knees to spread wider than the hips is not a good idea. The lower back may be compressed as a result of this.

Allowing your elbows to splay out and your shoulders to roll inward is not a good idea. Your neck and shoulders may become tense as a result of this.

Up For A Challenge?

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, here’s how you can ramp up your practice and make it more efficient.

  • Increase the stretch by raising your body off the floor with your toes and bringing your hips up higher. Remember to move the pelvis inwards. Maintain the pressure by lowering your heels to the floor.
  • To maximize the strength of your attention on your muscles, loop a belt around them and push against the belt’s strap. Next, position the belt above your knees on the upper portion of your legs to concentrate on your legs, and then focus on the leg by pulling the thighs outward.

Staying in this pose for a while when you’re exhausted will help you regain your energy. It can make your legs stronger and shape your legs, as well as relieve shoulder pain and slow your heart rate.

Wrapping Up!!

The Adho Mukha Svanasana is known for its muscle-relaxing properties. The effort to pull the hands apart in this position increases the tension in the muscle tendons and the spinal cord response by signaling the muscles to relax. As a result of the stretching in this pose, it helps to calm the body and mind. Because everyone’s body is different, there aren’t always specific instructions. Listen to your very own body as much as possible. It would help if you found the right balance between increasing your flexibility while avoiding injury or becoming demotivated.

If you are interested in Backbend Poses, check out this article.

Sumeet, Devina, and Dr. Mishra

Pin It