Training your abs is one of the core exercises that you include in your routine on regular basis. There are several techniques that you can follow but Yoga is one of the best in the class. In continuation of the series in my last post, I have discussed Kapal Bhati and Viparita Shalabhasana, where Kapal Bhati is purely a breathing exercise that helps build your stamina and endurance. And Viparita Shalabhasana is particularly helpful in strengthening your lower back muscles and to some extent it also provides its healing touch to the abdominal muscles. In this post, I will discuss Cobra Pose and Seated Forward Bend which will equally tone up your abdominal muscle.
A/ Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
The Cobra pose strengthens the entire back and shoulders. It also helps tone the abdomen and improves blood circulation. This asana resembles a serpent with its hood raised. Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana is part of the sequence of yoga postures in Padma Sadhana and Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation. Bhujangasana is pronounced as BHU-Jung-AAHS-uh-nuh. The word can be break into two part Bhujang = Snake (Cobra); Asana = Posture or Pose, that is why it is named as Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana.
- Lie on your stomach with your toes flat on the floor and forehead resting on the ground.
- Keep your legs close together, with your feet and heels lightly touching each other.
- Place your hands (palms downwards) under your shoulders, keeping your elbows parallel and close to your torso.
- Taking a deep breath in, slowly lift your head, chest and abdomen while keeping your navel on the floor.
- Pull your torso back and off the floor with the support of your hands.
- Checkpoint: Are you putting equal pressure on both the palms?
- Keep breathing with awareness, as you curve your spine vertebra by vertebra. If possible, straighten your arms by arching your back as much as possible; tilt your head back and look up.
- Checkpoint: Are your shoulders away from your ears? Keep your shoulders relaxed, even if it means bending your elbows. With regular practice, you will be able to deepen the stretch by straightening the elbows.
- Ensure that your feet are still close together. Keep smiling and breathing. Smiling Cobras!
- Don’t overdo the stretch or overstrain yourself.
- Breathing out, gently bring your abdomen, chest and head back to the floor.
While practising the pose be mindful of the checkpoints that are required.
- Opens up the shoulders and neck.
- Tones the abdomen.
- Strengthens the entire back and shoulders.
- Improves flexibility of the upper and middle back.
- Expands the chest.
- Improves blood circulation.
- Reduces fatigue and stress.
- Useful for people with respiratory disorders such as asthma. (Do not practice this yoga pose during the attack though).
- Avoid practising Bhujangasana if you are pregnant, have fractured ribs or wrists, or recently underwent abdominal surgeries, such as for a hernia.
- Also, avoid doing Bhujangasana if you suffer from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.
- Practice Cobra Pose under a Yoga teacher’s guidance if you have suffered from chronic diseases or spinal disorders in the past.
B/ Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
The Seated forward bend stretches the lower back, hamstrings and hips. It also tones the abdominal and pelvic organs. The word can be break into two part Paschim = west; uttana = stretched out; asana = pose, that is why it is named as Seated Forward Bend or Paschimottanasana.
- Sit up with the legs stretched out straight in front of you, keeping the spine erect and toes flexed toward you.
- Breathing in, raise both arms above your head and stretch up.
- Breathing out, bend forward from the hip joints, chin moving toward the toes. Keep the spine erect focusing on moving forwards towards the toes, rather than down towards the knees.
- Place your hands on your legs, wherever they reach, without forcing. If you can, take hold of your toes and pull on them to help you go forward.
- Breathing in, lift your head slightly and lengthen your spine.
- Breathing out, gently move the navel towards the knees.
- Repeat this movement two or three times.
- Drop your head down and breathe deeply for 20-60 seconds.
- Stretch the arms out in front of you.
- Breathing in, with the strength of your arms, come back up to the sitting position.
- Breathe out and lower the arms.
- Stretches lower back, hamstrings and hips.
- Massages and tones the abdominal and pelvic organs.
- Tones the shoulders.
Do not practice this yoga posture if you have had an abdominal surgery recently or if you are pregnant.
Yoga practice helps develop the body and mind bringing a lot of health benefits yet is not a substitute for medicine. It is important to learn and practice yoga postures under the supervision of a trained Yoga teacher.
Happy practising and feel free to share like and comments. More exciting posture on the topic will be discussed in my next post!!! So do follow my blog.
Source: The Art of Living