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

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

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

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

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

Meaning Of Viparita Karani

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

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

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

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

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

Furthermore

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

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

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

Viparita Karani Pose Breakdown

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

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

A Detailed Explanation

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

STEP 1: 

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

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

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

STEP 2 :

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

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

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

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

STEP 3:

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

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

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

STEP 4:

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

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

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

STEP 5:

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

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

STEP 6:

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

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

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

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

Preparatory Poses For Viparita Karani

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

Modifications And Variations

Arm Variations

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

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

For Sacrum Joint Pain Relief

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

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

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

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

For Tight Hamstrings

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

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

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

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

For More Relaxation

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

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

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

For Pregnant Women

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

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

For Unsteady Legs

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

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

Different Legs Versions You Can Try

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

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

Precautions Before Performing Viparita Karani

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

Props For Modifications

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

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

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

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

Taking A Partner’s Help

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

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

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

Rep for a few more breaths.

Best Time To Practice

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

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

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

Tips For Beginners

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits Of Viparita Karani

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

Physical Benefits

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

All In All 

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

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

Moreover

Viparita Karani’s key physical benefits:

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

Mental Benefits Of Viparita Karani

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

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

When To Not Perform This Asana

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

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

The Science Of Viparita Karani Mudra

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

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

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

Wrapping Up

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

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

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

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

Sumeet

Reviewed by Dr. Rai and Devina

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

“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

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

Bhujangasana Or Cobra Pose – Origin And Significance

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

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

Cobra Pose – Scientific Significance

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

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

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

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

Which Muscles Benefit From The Cobra Pose

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

Benefits Of Bhujangasana Or Cobra Pose 

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

  • Works On And Strengthens Your Spine: 

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

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

  • Might Improve Circulation Of Oxygenated Blood:

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

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

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

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

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

  • It Might Be Helpful In Losing Belly Fat:

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

  • Maybe Good For Therapeutic Neck And Back Pain:

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

  • Might Work On The Digestive System:

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

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

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

  • Could Tone Your Upper And Lower Body:

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

When To Perform This Asana?

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

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

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

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

When To Avoid Performing Cobra Pose?

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

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

How To Initiate Cobra Pose?

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

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

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

Steps Involving Cobra Pose

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

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

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

  1. Press Onto The Floor With Both Hands

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

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

  1. Start Pulling Your Shoulders Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If You Are A Newbie To Cobra Pose

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

If Cobra Stretch Poses Challenge For You 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Precautions To Be Taken While Performing The Cobra Pose

  • Stretch Is Not About How High You Can Bend 

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

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

  • Properly Position The Hands To Avoid Pulling Major Muscles 

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

  • Clenching The Buttocks 

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

  • Not Using Hips To Lift The Ground 

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

Conclusion

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

Sri Lakshmi and Dr. Mishra

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

What are Yoga Backbend Poses?

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

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

Who can do it?

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

Kids

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

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

Teenagers

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

Adults

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

Middle-Aged

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

Aged Folks

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

Who can’t do it?

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

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

What are the scientific benefits?

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

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

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

Beginner Backbend Poses

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

  1. Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose

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

  1. Dhanurasana or Bow Pose

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

  1. Balasana or Child Pose

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

  1. Ustrasana or Camel Pose

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

  1. Marjariasana or Cat Stretch Pose

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

  1. Salabhasana or Locust Pose

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

Take it easy

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

Summary

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

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

Sri Lakshmi, Devina and Dr. Mishra

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

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