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Back muscles

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Ardha Kapotasana (Half pigeon pose)

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How to do Ardha Kapotasana? Assume posture no. 3 of surya namaskar, Ashvasanchalan, with the left leg in the front. Drop the right knee on the floor and flatten the foot bringing the hip closer to the ground. Drop the left knee to the floor such that the left foot comes close to the hip on the right side. Place your left hand on the left knee and the right hand on the left foot. Stretch your elbows and hold the posture letting your hip settle. Once comfortable here raise both your hands over the head with the palms together. Repeat the same on the other side. Benefits: This asana provides a great stretch for the hip, knee and also the lower back. Contra-indication : In case of knee injuries practice under supervision.

Spinal Twist in Ashwasanchalanasana

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Assume posture no. 3 of surya namaskar, ashwasanchalan. With the left leg in the front. Allow the back knee to rest on the floor. Take your right arm over the left knee so that the armpit is resting over the knee. This will allow you to turn your upper body to face the left side. Join your hands to make a Namaste at the centre of your chest. Gaze at your left elbow. This is the final posture. Hold for as long as comfortable. Repeat on the other side.

Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Spinal Twist)

Mythical references :  Legend goes that Lord Shiva explained the mysteries of yoga to his companion Parvathi, in the river nearby there was a fish who listened quietly to the entire narrative. Lord shiva realising that the fish had learnt Yoga blessed it. The fish took the divine form of Lord Matsyendra, Lord of the fishes. How to do Matsyedrasana Sit with the legs stretched out in front of you. Bend the right knee in under the left leg, to bring the right foot close to the left buttock. Bend the left knee to bring the left foot over the right knee and flat on the floor outside of the right knee. Bring the left hand through the space between the chest and the right knee. Twisting the torso to bring the left armpit over the right knee. Hold the right foot / ankle with the left hand Place the right hand on the floor behind and use as a lever to open up your chest. Sit up straight. Reverse the movement to come out of the posture and repeat on the other side. Benefits: It stretches the muscles on the upper back, shoulders, hips, and neck. Stimulates the digestive fire in the belly This asana massages the abdominal organs alleviating digestive ailments.It regulates the secretion of the adrenal glands, liver and pancreas. Contra-indication : Pregnant women should avoid this asana.

Naukasana (Boat pose)

Asana Description: How to do Naukasana? Sit down on the floor with the knees bent and palms resting on the floor near the hips. Inhale and straighten your knees so that the feet are no more than 15cm above the floor, simultaneously lean back with the hands stretched out straight in front of you. Arms and feet are at the same level with the palms facing downwards. Balance only on the buttocks. Gaze at your toes. Benefits: This asana removes lethargy by toning all organs and stimulating the digestive, muscular, circulatory, nervous and hormonal systems.

Paschimottanasana

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Asana Description: This forward bend asana rejuvenates the spine and tones the abdominal organs and gets rid of sluggishness. Paschima means west or back of the body and uttana intense stretch or extension and asana posture or pose. How to do Paschimottasana? Sit with the legs out stretched with the feet together. Place the hands on the knees. Relax your body in this posture. This is the starting posture. Slowly bend from your hip, slide your hands down your legs and grasp your big toes between your thumbs and fingers. If this is not possible you may hold your heels, ankles calves or knees. Hold this position and relax your back and legs allowing them to gently stretch. Without bending your knees gently pull your torso towards your legs. Pull using the arm muscles, do not strain the back. Try to touch your head to the knee. Be careful not to strain. This is the final posture. Hold in this posture for as long as comfortable. Counter-Indications: People suffering from back problems, slip-disc, sciatica, hernia should not practice paschimottanasana.

Janusirsasana

Asana Description: Janusirsasana quite literally means head to knee pose. In Sanskrit ‘janu’ means knee, sirsha means head and asana pose or posture. Janusirsasana is a forward bending posture that strengthens and stretches the shoulders, spine, groins and hamstrings while simultaneously stimulating the livers and kidneys. It is beneficial for people suffering from high bloods pressure, insomnia and sinusitis and also helps relieve menopausal symptoms, menstrual discomfort, stress & anxiety. How to do Janusirsasana? Sit with the legs out stretched with the feet together. Bend the left leg and place the heel of the foot at the perineum and allow the sole of the foot to rest against right inner thigh. Keep your spine stretched and back muscles relaxed. Slowly bend forward sliding your hands down your right leg and try to hold your right foot. If possible hold your right foot with both your hands. Try to touch your forehead on the right knee. This is the final position. Stay in this posture for as long as is comfortable. Slowly sit up and straighten the left leg. Return to the starting posture and rest the hands on the knees. Change sides and repeat with the right leg bent and left leg straight. Practice up to 5 times each side. Counter-Indications: People suffering from back problems, slip-disc, sciatica, hernia should not practice this asana.

Utthita Parsvakonasana (extended side angle pose)

The pose teaches you how to stabilize your legs while you open and expand the sides of your rib cage, training the muscles that support good breathing. It also tones the muscles that run along the sides of your body, from the outer heel to the outer hip, along the torso, and up to the outer arm. Developing this strength gives you the structural support you need to lift and lengthen your spine. For this reason, Side Angle Pose is a fundamental pose to practice regularly. How to do Utthita Parsvakonasana: - Start with legs about one meter apart, toes facing the side of the mat. - Inhale and extend the arms out to the side. Turn the right toes to face the front of the mat, keeping the back foot parallel to the back of the mat. - Bend the right leg to a 90 degree angle, being sure to press the outer edge of the left foot into the mat, keeping the back leg firm. - Bring the right hand down to the outer edge of the right foot (to the mat or to a block, depending on flexibility) and extended the left hand toward the sky. - Begin to stretch the left hand over the head, so bicep is close to the ear. Turn the chest upward and use the core to lift the spine. - Stay here for up to 45 seconds and repeat on the other side. How it helps: Utthita Parsvakonasana strengthen and stretches the legs, knees and ankles. It stretches the groin, spine, waist, chest and lungs. Because the muscles of the legs are so large it consumes a lot of energy to strengthen them, therefore extended side [...]

Ardha Padma Merudandasana (Half lotus spinal column pose)

Before attempting this pose you should be comfortable with both padmasana and merudandasana. How to do ardha padma merudandasana: - Sit with legs strait in front of the body. - Slowly bend the right leg and grasp the top of the foot, placing it on top of the left thigh. The sole should face upward and the heel should be close to the pubic bone. - Bend the left leg and place the sole of the foot on the floor. - Interlock all ten finger and place the hands just below the ball of the left foot. - Straiten the spine and tighten the core to help you balance. - Lean slightly back onto the coccyx and, once the body is balanced, begin to straiten the left leg. Push the heel forward and pull the toes in toward the face. - Slowly return to the starting position and perform on the other side. How it helps: Ardha padma merudandasana is great for digestion. The heel of the right foot massages the internal abdominal organs. It helps to stimulate peristalsis, alleviating constipation. It strengthens the muscles of the back and helps to realign the spine.

Ashtavakrasana

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Mythical reference: In Indian mythology this asana is dedicated to Sage Ashtavakra, the spiritual precipitator of King Janaka of Mithila. He was born with eight deformities, hence the name Ashtavakra. In Sanskrti ashta means 'eight' and vakra 'deformities'. How to do Ashtavakrasana? 1.     Stand with your feet about a metre apart. 2.     Bend your knees, place the right hand between the feet and the left hand just in front of your left foot. 3.     Lift your right leg and place the thigh on your right upper arm just above the elbow. 4.     Place the left foot between your arms bringing it closer to the right foot. 5.     Lift both legs for the floor and interlock them by placing the left foot on the right ankle 6.     Stretch both your legs to the right side. 7.     Ensure that the right arm is between the legs and the right upper arm straight. 8.     Balance on the arms. 9.     Bend your elbows; lower the trunk and head, so that they are parallel to the floor. 10.  Stay in the final posture for as long as is comfortable. 11.  To release, slowly straighten the arms and raise the trunk. Unlock the legs and lower them to the floor. 12.  Return to the starting posture. 13.  Repeat on the opposite side. Counter-Indications: This posture must be attempted only once the shoulders and arms have become very strong. If you have high blood pressure, heart ailments, back or hip problems please do not attempt this asana.   - Komal Jyoti

Padahastasana (hands-to-feet forward bend)

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Padahastasana is one of the most important Yoga forward bending asanas. It is repeated twice in each Surya Namaskaar round as well. How to do it? 1. Stand upright with a very slight gap in between your feet and inhale. 2. Exhale and Bend forward from the hips until your palms or fingers touch the floor on either side of the feet , without bending your knees. 3. Bring the forehead as close to knees as you can. 4. Hold this pose for 30sec to 1 min with steady and calm breathing. 5. Inhale and stand upright again. Contra-indications: People suffering from back conditions should not bend forward fully. they can bend from the hips keeping the back straight making a 90 degree angle with the legs.   - Ruchi Renavikar

Sarpasana (Snake pose)

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Sarpasana also called snake pose , helps straighten and correct the posture , particularly rounded shoulders and has a profound strenthening effect on the back muscles. How to do it? 1. Lie flat on your stomach with your legs straight and feet together. 2. Interlocking your hands behind place them above your buttocks. keep your chin on the floor . 3.  Breathe in and Raise your chest above, as far as possible from the floor. 4. Push your hands further behind and raise your arms as high as comfortable. 5. Hold for 30sec to 1min with controlled and slow breathing. 6. Breathe out and Slowly return to your original position releasing your hands. 7. Turn to one side and sit upright. 8. Repeat this asana 3 times.   Contra-indications: People suffering from the following problems must not practice this asana: Peptic ulcer Hernia Intestinal tuberculosis Hyperthyroidism High BP/ Heart conditions Benefits: It tones the ovaries and uterus Helps in menstrual and gynecological disorders. Keeps the spine supple and healthy Stimulates appetite and alleviates constipation. Beneficial for kidneys and the liver.   - Ruchi Renavikar

Trikonasana (Triangle pose)

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It stimulates the nervous system and alleviates nervous depression. It improves digestion and increases strength and flexibilty. How to do it? 1. Stand erect with the gap between your feet more than the shoulder width and turn the right foot outwards. 2. Inhale and Raise your arms to shoulder level 3. Keeping your arms straight Exhale and bend to the right side. Simultaneously slightly bend your right knee. 4. Place your right hand on the right foot , while your left hand is straight and pointing vertically upwards. 5. Look up at your left hand and hold this posture for 30sec to 1 min with steady breathing. 6. Return to the upright position with arms in a straight line and repeat the same on the left side. 7. This completes one round. Repeat it 3 times. Contra-indications: Should not be performed without guidance by those suffering from back conditions. Benefits: Affects the muscles of the side trunk , waist and back of the leg. Strengthens pelvic area and tones reproductive organs. Regular practice helps to reduce waistline fat.   - Ruchi Renavikar