The kind of sukoon you get after stretching your body in the morning can’t be expressed in words. Do you know why you feel that relaxed after stretching yourself? That’s because your muscles get relaxed and the blood flow rejuvenates them super quickly. But this is not all that a full stretch does for your body. It can help in muscle building and even weight loss.
And it goes without saying that your spine needs all the TLC that you can give! Your spine literally holds your entire body upright, is a part of the central nervous system, and is responsible for all bodily functions. To a large extent, your overall health also depends on how strong your spine is.
In our daily life, we tend to forget to take our spine through its full range of movements, and as a result, the spine as a result gets stiffer and loses its fluidity.
There are 5 major movements that the spine makes
• Flexion, rounds the spine forward
• Extension, rounds the spine back
• Rotation, twists the spine
• Side bending/Lateral flexion of the spine (sit in sukhasana, right both the hands up and bed sideways on the right and hole and the switch the left or Trikonasana)
• Axial extension, decompresses and vertically elongates the spine
Yoga expert Samiksha Shetty recommends these 5 spine stretches that your back needs
Tiger breathing aka Cat-Cow Pose
With synchronized slow breathing, this asana helps relieve the spine, back, and neck muscles creating mobility in your spine.
Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Keep your palms shoulder-distance apart with your wrist right below your shoulders and keep your knees hip-width apart.
Start by keeping your spine in a neutral position.
Inhale, roll your shoulder blades, back lift your head up and arch your back.
Exhale, round your back pulling in the navel into the spine. Tuck your chin towards your chest. Continue this fluid movement and connect your breath to each movement. Repeat this for 10 breaths.
Downward-Facing Dog aka Adho Mukha Svanasana
“I’m sure you’ve heard of this one. This asana helps unwind the entire body. It strengthens the arms and shoulders, lengthens the spine, calves, and hamstrings, and energizes the entire body by bringing blood flow to your brain,” says Samiksha Shetty.
Start on the floor by placing your hands and knees down. Straighten your legs by lifting your knees off the floor and pushing your heels down as far as they can go.
Extend the spine by pushing away from the ground using your palms.
Stay here for 5 to 9 breaths.
This asana is good for the waist, the spine, and abdominal organs and keeps the reproductive organs healthy.
Start by standing upright and spread your feet 3 to 4 feet apart. Inhale deeply and while exhaling, bend forward from the waist. Place your hands on the floor- shoulder-width apart.
On the next exhale twist the entire upper body to the right from the waist, touching the left hand to the right ankle. Stretch the right arm straight up in line with your shoulder without over-extending your arm. Inhale while getting your hands back to the center and when you exhale, twist to the left side.
The movement should be continuous and flowing. Repeat 10 to 15 times on each side. Focus on being in full control of your movement and breath. Variation:If you cannot reach your foot, place your hands between both feet and twist from there.
Cobra Pose aka Bhujangasana
“Bhujangasana, one of the most used poses in yoga, is essential to open up your heart and lungs. Other than this, when you lift your body off the floor as you inhale while using your belly and back muscles, this strengthens your spine, soothes any pain in your sciatic nerve, and stretches your hip joint,” suggests Samiksha Shetty.
Start by lying down on your stomach with your feet flat on the floor.
Place your hands under your shoulders on the floor while tucking your elbows in towards your ribs.
With an inhale, raise your head, chest, and abdomen without lifting your navel off the floor. Maintain equal pressure on both your palms.
Exhale – Slowly release your breath while gently placing your forehead, chest, and abdomen back on the ground.
Move your body in sync with your breath and repeat this movement for a few breaths.
Ardha Matsyendrasana aka Spinal Twist
Regular practice of this asana improves pelvic and waist circulation. It also helps ease out any stiffness and improves spine flexibility.
Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you and your spine erect. Bend both your legs for the knees. Place your left heel under your right hip and take the right leg across the left knee by placing the right foot on the left side of the left knee.
Inhale, pulling the abdomen in and straightening the spine. Exhale twist to the right. Place the right hand behind you on the floor for support and place your left hand across your right leg bringing your armpit in line with your knee and try to hold your right foot.
Look over your right shoulder. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. With every exhale, try to get deeper. If this is tough, try starting with a basic seated twist.
Sit in Sukhasana, hook your right hand across the left knee and twist to the left. Hold for a few breaths. Then repeat with the left hand.
So ladies, give your spine a stretch and restore your health without any medical intervention.