Basic YOGA POSES FOR MEN
Yoga is a traditional practice for physical and spiritual well-being. It acts as a panacea for all sorts of ailments. Irregular eating habits, sedentary lifestyles, and turbulence of mind have made human life miserable. In today’s world yoga can do wonders if practiced sincerely. Asanas focus on the strength and flexibility of the body. They provide adequate massage to the internal organs and stimulate them through various movements. The endocrine system functions efficiently which is responsible for balancing emotions and broadens the mental faculties. Yoga not only builds and tones the muscles it provides complete rehauling of body and mind.
Some of the postures are especially beneficial for men. As they enhance endurance, reduces the stiffness in hips, hamstrings, and shoulders. Initially try to hold these postures for 30 seconds gradually you can hold them for 1 minute. Remember longer you hold them you will have better muscles strength and gain incredible confidence.
The most potent asana has derived its name from the Sanskrit word ‘bhujanga’ which means cobra. While doing this pose one has to raise the head and trunk of the body which has a striking resemblance with a raised head of a cobra. It is believed that a regular practice of this posture done with the complete awareness of breath and heat can awaken the serpent kundalini lying at the base of the spin. During, the asana try to focus on the muscles of the back, biceps, triceps, core, chest and thoracic region. This asana is good for the spine as it receives a powerful backward stretch and becomes flexible. Every vertebra is pulled back and gets a rich blood supply.
But before we settle ourselves in this asana, it is important to do preparatory exercises. For this, one should relax on the abdomen, bring one hand on top of the other and rest our head on it. Turning the head to one side and then rest the cheek on the hands. Our toes should join each other while heels should remain apart. The deep abdominal breathing should be practiced in this position for a minute or so. Now, for the main asana bring your feet together, place your hands next to the rib cage and with a deep inhalation rise first the forehead then push the chin forward, slowly roll the body up and back. Gradually stretch the spine up and back vertebra by vertebra. Pushing the chest forward, arch the head and shoulders back. Elbows remain bent. Do not hunch the shoulders; make sure they are back and down, away from the ears. At the same time press your hips, thighs, and feet to the floor. Try to hold the position at least for a minute whereas beginners should hold it for ten seconds. While coming out of the asana exhale and slowly roll out of the posture. When the chin has come to the floor, bring the nose in and then the forehead. Rest your forehead on the ground first, then make a pillow of your hands and rest one side of your head on it. Repeat the asana three to six times to gain maximum benefit. Some of the common mistakes done by the practitioner while doing the asana should be avoided, for instance, shoulders are hunched and rotated inwards or place their hands in front of the shoulders rather than keeping them next to the rib cage. Even while coming out of the position they will push up and drop back instead of using the ‘rolling’ movement.
This asana massages and stretches the deep and superficial muscles of the back. When it is held for a longer duration then it strengthens the muscles of the lower back. It relieves the practitioner from the several problems related to a back like a backache, hunchback, lumbago, and myalgia. The abdomen should be kept on the ground as it increases intra-abdominal pressure and tones up the abdominal viscera. It also aids digestion, enhances appetite, keeps the flatulence and constipation at bay and tones up the kidney which helps in the purification of blood. As the thoracic region stretches and rib cage expands, it combats asthma, thyroid-related and other respiratory ailments. Remember, ‘bhujanga’ asana should be performed slowly and consciously as it involves the spinal column which houses the spinal cord, the main nerve cable of the body. It increases the blood circulation and gives an adequate supply of oxygen to the nerves connected with the spinal cord.
SALABHASANA (THE LOCUST)
Salabhasana is a back-bending posture which tones up abdominal muscles, strengthens back, opens the chest and invokes tranquility in the mind. This asana requires tremendous energy and just like locust the body leaps off the ground and throws it backward. It prepares the body for other back bending exercises. It gives a good stretch to chest, shoulders, and thighs.
For assuming the posture: Lie on the abdomen, keep the chin on the floor and stretch it as far as possible, imagine you are trying to bring the throat flat on the floor. Make the fists of your hands and bring them beneath your thighs. Try to bring the elbows together beneath the body. Inhale, raise the right leg up as high as possible without twisting the hips. Exhale, lower the leg to the ground and repeat this with the left leg. Do this five times on each side. Beginners can hold their leg initially for five seconds and gradually increase their time up to fifteen seconds. After doing the preparatory exercise now assume the final position, take three deep breaths. On the inhalation of third breath, raise both legs as high as possible. Ensure that your knees are straight. Beginners will be able to lift only two or three inches. While advanced practitioners will lift the legs higher until the feet are over the head. For this year of practice, dedication and concentration are required. Locust is the best asana which prepares the advanced practitioners for the more intense backbend asanas. Beginners can retain this posture for five seconds and gradually they can increase it to thirty seconds. For coming out of the posture, exhale and bring both the legs down. Take out your hands from beneath the body, rest and relax on the abdomen. Fold the arms, making a pillow and rest the cheek on the hands. While doing this asana just make sure that your chin shouldn’t lift off the ground and legs shouldn’t go apart. This asana enhances abdominal pressure, as a result, it regulates intestinal functions which strengthen the digestive system, abdominal and lumbar muscles. It improves the flexibility of the cervical region and, gives a good massage to the internal organs such as pancreas, liver, and kidneys. The locust increases the blood supply to the neck, throat region and provides immense strength to the muscles of upper arms. It relieves the pain of the lower back and sciatica. It improves the balance of the body. People having a problem of high blood pressure, arthritis of hips or lumbar spine, glaucoma, hernia should avoid doing this asana. It governs the digestive system and increases the metabolism of the body.
ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA
“Adho Mukha Svansana” is one of the primary posture done during sun salutation. It brings flexibility to the spine and limbs. It is also popularly known as inverted ‘V’ position. It prepares the beginners for the inversion-related postures. This asana requires regular practice to gain perfection. And it is a very important intermediate posture which needs to be done throughout the yoga session to retain the natural alignment of the spine. It gives a required stretch to calves, hamstrings, shoulders, hands, and wrists.
For assuming the position: Stand on your knees, keep your knees and toes hip-width apart, bend forward, place your palms on the floor and keep them shoulder-width apart. Now, check the alignment of knees, they should be beneath your hips and palms should be beneath your shoulder. Acquire the form of a table. As you exhale, raise your hips, straighten the knees and elbows. Form an inverted ‘V’ position, drop the head between the arms. Ensure hands and feet are parallel to each other, toes are pointing straight. Once again check the distance between your hands, if it is wider than shoulder than it can cause tension in your neck and shoulder. If the distance between hands and feet is too less than you will put undue pressure on your lower back. Therefore, before you settle in the posture be very specific about the distance between your hand and feet. Beginners will experience slight difficulty in touching their heels to the floor. They should focus on the straightening of the legs. Try to maintain your gaze to your navel. Retain the posture and inhale five deep yogic breaths. The advanced practitioner can retain the posture for a longer duration. For coming out of the posture acquire the table form and then gently go into child pose (Balasana). This counterpose will relax your spine.
Adho Mukhasvansana makes the spine supple, elastic and lengthens it. This asana gives a good stretch to shoulder, arms, abdominal region, back, thigh and calves. While doing the asana as you expand the chest, it alleviates the ailments related to a respiratory disorder like sinuses and keeps away the viruses like common cold and flu. It invigorates the entire nervous system and gives a good supply of blood to the brain. It enhances the circulation in the lymphatic system, strengthens immunity and rejuvenates the whole body. Those who have a back & knee problem, high blood pressure, inflammation in the eyes and ears or suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome should avoid doing this asana.