Yoga and spine: lateral bending postures

Just as the structure of our bodies is determined by the spine and its health, much of Yoga's postures are designed to incentivize or develop activity throughout its journey. In this article we will focus on the movement of lateral flexion of the spine, observing its details and characteristic postures. Write Pablo Rego.

(c) Can Stock Photo / fizkes

If we become aware that the spine is the axis of health and serenity we will be able to establish the importance of the work of mobilizing each vertebra and each area of the spine in the structure of a Yoga session.

Possible movements on the spine are: forward flexion, extension (backward bending), twisting and lateral push-ups. In addition, these movements can be combined by performing postures containing, for example, combined bending and twisting, forward and lateral bending, etc..

It is important to note that each area, of course, allows different degrees of mobility and that is why there are also different positions that emphasize the lateral flexion a specific part of the column.

Side push-ups

Classic Hatha Yoga contains some typical postures of lateral flexion that are determined by the sense of movement and by the permanence required by posture. Asanas like the "triangle" in bending (Trikonasana), "side flexion standing” (Utthita Parsvakonasana) ó posturas que surgjen de variantes de Yogaterapia u otras disciplinas como “the dragon" (Anantasana), or "the crescent” (ardha Chandrasana), proveen los beneficios que este movimiento proporciona a la columna en particular y al cuerpo en general. Todas las posturas de flexión lateral tienen la característica de poder practicarse hacia ambos lados, por lo que la incidencia sobre la espina dorsal se duplica.

Combinations and variations

By correctly understanding the concepts of bending it is possible to apply these movements as variations in postures that are assembled with the column aligned in the center. From a posture it is possible to flex the spine laterally without losing sight of the original posture and giving the body the possibility of modifying postural traumas, stretching muscles that we would otherwise never stretch and working in the depths of organic structures.

Positions such as, among many others, "The Bee" (Brahmarasana), "The child" (Balasana), "The Cat" (Bidalasana), "The mouse" (Musikasana) or, adding some complication, "The Ant" (Kasyapasana), they perfectly support these variations and we could say that it is an interesting enrichment, especially if we intend to walk palm by palm the body to modify it and completely unstructure it.

Este concepto está muy arraigado en el Yoga terapéutico y es, quizá, uno de sus pilares principales de cara a la recuperación de la correcta postura, alineación y sanación de la columna vertebral.

Caution in this type of movement

An inso flexible spine, which has its resecos intervertebral discs, can react badly to early bending attempts. Therefore it is advisable to always properly heat the body, especially the back, and perform the first extensions with great care and apoco, using half postures before performing the complete postures.

The side push-ups they can cause unusual strain on the spine environment, so early attempts can lead to subsequent pains that last for a few days due to inflammation of the area.

Of course, the assistance of an experienced instructor or teacher will make it easier to optimize these cares.

Effects of side push-ups

When we do a posture of lateral flexion there are several effects on the different areas of the body and its structures, both superficial and deep and subtle. From the point of view of the physical body the consequences of immobility of the spine are concentrated in the almost complete stiffness of its areas and also its periphery, ending up encompassing the overall shortening of the muscles of the body, including arms and legs.

Therefore, the practice of lateral bending of the column will, in the first instance, create the movement of each vertebra and its environment, returning health to the intervertebral discs that will lubricate and become more flexible, as well as to the muscle fibers that line the vertebrae.

These push-ups act remarkably on the muscles on both sides of the body. In addition to the legs or arms, important stretches occur in the costal area, releasing tension from the chest muscles that are usually contracted by a hectic and anxious emotional breathing.

The same goes for the oblique muscles of the abdomen and sides of the legs and arms. It is very difficult to deeply flex the body without the muscles containing the movement stretching. Therefore, as we practice deeper or more intense bending postures, we can cause greater stretches throughout the side area of the physical body.

Of all the movements that the spine allows us, in addition to the side push-ups discussed in this article, the extension is one of the most easily lost and one of the most difficult to recover, so we have dedicated its specific chapter in "extension or backward bending postures". Push-ups forward are movements that require a specific and detailed chapter discussed in the article "postures and forward bending", like the Twist.

The basic concepts regarding the health of the physical body, organs and nervous system are explained in "Spine, axis of health and serenity"

In the Yoga session

A Yoga session can be organized to achieve different goals. The work of force in the limbs or spinal, pectoral or abdominal muscles should be the health service of the vital area that is the spine.

Training that is performed as activation of metabolism, cardiorespiratory exercises such as greetings and styles such as Power or Ashtanga always include a stage of column extension, stretching of the anterior part, bending of the sides and twisting, since everything else without that moment of the session would lack the sense of balance that Yoga always seeks.

The work of movements on the spine must always be present and occupy a predominant space in practice. The realization of warm-up movements, push-ups, extensions and soft and intense twists must be combined and always be part of a complete session of Hatha Yoga.

Pablo Rego. Yoga teacher. Massage therapist-holistic therapist. Diploma in Ayurvedic Medicine from India


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By • 15 Jun, 2017 • Sección: Signatures