The word 'Yoga' is derived from the Sanskrit verb 'yuga', which means to join. The ultimate aim of yoga is to unite the body, mind and soul. Yogasanas or yoga postures are merely an element in the attempt to achieve this unison, breathing exercises and meditation being among others.
But these postures have been found to be surprisingly effective in ensuring physical fitness and relieving ailments. The approach, however, has to be holistic, say experts. This means that merely twisting your body to achieve a posture is not yoga. The final posture must be achieved by carefully and mindfully understanding each step that goes towards it, and by focussing on your breath and the posture in its final stage.
One of the many ailments yogasanas can help you with is back pain. Here’s a list of the most commonly suggested yogasanas for back pain:
1. Marjarasan or the cat posture
Stand on your knees. The distance between them should be equal to the distance between your shoulders. Now, bend forward and place your elbows on the ground, with the left elbow touching the left knee and the right one touching the right knee.
Your palms should be facing down. Straighten your arms and lift your body with the palms still facing down.
This is the ideal way to be on all fours.
Inhale. As you exhale, pull your spine in and your neck out. The back of your head should have moved in the direction of your back. Hold the posture for three breaths and concentrate. This is part one of Marjarasan.
Return to all fours. Inhale and as you inhale, pull your spine out and push your neck in. Touch your chin to the area between your collar bone. This is the second part of Marjarasan.
2. Bhujangasan or the snake posture
Sleep on your stomach with your hands on either side. Your forehead should be touching the ground. Place your hands, palms down, next to your chest on either side with the elbows pulled inwards. Take a deep breath.
As you exhale, slowly lift the upper half of your body—the chin, the nose, the forehead, the neck and the chest—and arch your spine inwards. Hold this posture for three-five breaths.
Here again, sleep on your stomach with your hands on either side. This time, your chin should be touching the ground. Place your hands, with palms facing upwards, below your thighs. Now lift your legs in the air while keeping them straight and hold them there for three-five breaths.
Sit with your back straight, legs in front of you and hands—palms facing downwards—on either side. Lift your body, from your stomach, and try to touch your toes to the ground. Hold for three to five breaths.
Stand on your feet, with your hands on either side. Lift your hands in the air and keep them straight. Some people also clasp their hands together at this stage. Now stand on your toes for as long as you can. Choosing a spot to focus your eyesight on helps maintain balance.
Remember, if you have no proper training, do not undertake any of these asanas without a professional besides you.