Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Shakthi Bandha Asanas (Energy Block Postures)


Ahh finally!! I'm posting my first asana pictorial. Part 3 of the Pawanmuktasana, also known as the shakthi bandha group of asanas. This group of asanas are concerned with improving the energy flow within the body. They eliminate energy blockages in the spine, activate the lungs and heart, and improve endocrine function. These asanas are useful for those with reduced vitality and a stiff back and specially useful for women suffering with menstrual problems due to its toning effect on the pelvic organs and muscles. It can be practised after pregnancy for retoning flaccid muscles. The shakti bandha series may be started straight away if good health and fitness prevail. However, if there are any serious ailments, a yoga therapist or an experienced yoga instructor should be consulted.

Difficulty Level : Beginners

  

  1. Raju Karshanasana (Pulling the Rope)

         Instructions:

1.       Sit comfortably on a mat with your legs stretched out straight and together.
2.       Inhale and raise your right hand all the way up, parallel to your right ear.
3.       Imagine there’s a rope hanging above you. Reach out your right hand as high as possible and imagine grasping the rope.
4.       Keep looking forward.
5.      As you exhale, imagine pulling the rope with power and strength; lower your right arm all the way to your right thigh.
6.      Repeat with the left arm.
7.      Practice 5 to 10 rounds on each arm.

**Inhale while raising the arm.
**Exhale while lowering the arm.

         Benefits:
  1. This asana loosens the shoulder joints and stretches the upper back muscles.
  2. It firms the chest and develops the muscles of the chest.

    2. Gatyatmak Meru Vakrasana 

       (Dynamic Spinal Twist)


         Instructions:

1.      Sit comfortably on a mat with your legs stretched out. Keep your legs slightly apart without bending the knees.
2.   Reach out your right arm to hold your left big toe, if you’re unable to reach the toe, you can hold the left ankle or shin.
3.      Stretch out your left arm behind your back, as your spine twists to the left.
4.   Turn your head to the left to gaze at your left thumb. 
5.   Stay in this position for 3 to 5 seconds.
6.   Repeat the same step with the left hand holding your right big toe/ankle/shin while twisting the spine to the right.
7.   This is one round. Start out slow and gradually increase the speed.
8.   Make sure not to bend your knees throughout the practice.

         ** People with back problems should avoid this asana.
         ** Exhale when twisting and inhale when returning to the center.

         Benefits:
  1. This asana removes stiffness of the back and increases flexibility of the spine.
  2. It also decongests postural stress on the back and spinal column.

    3. Chakki Chalanasana (Churning the Mill)


          Instructions:
  1. Sit comfortably on a mat with your legs stretched out. Keep your legs slightly apart without bending the your knees.
  2. Interlock the fingers of both hands and hold the arms out straight in front of the chest.  Keep the arms straight throughout the practice; do not bend the elbows.
  3. Bend forward as far as possible without straining.
  4. Swivel to the right so that the hands pass above the right toes and as far as possible to the right without straining.
  5. Lean back as far as possible on the backward swing.
  6. Try to move the body from the waist. On the forward swing, bring the arms to the left side, over the left toes and then back to the center position.
  7. One rotation is one round.
  8. Practice 5 to 10 rounds clockwise and then the same number of rounds anti-clockwise. 
**Inhale when leaning back
**Exhale when moving forward.

Benefits:

This asana is excellent for toning the nerves and organs of the pelvic and abdominal region. It is very useful for regulating the menstrual cycle and may be performed during the first three months of pregnancy. It is also an excellent exercise for post-natal recovery.

4. Nauka Sanchalanasana (Rowing the Boat)


Instructions:

1. Sit with both legs stretched out in front of the body.
2. Imagine the action of rowing a boat. Clench the hands as though grasping oars, with the
    palms facing down.
3. Breathe out and bend forward from the waist as far as possible, straightening the arms.
4. Breathing in, lean back as far as possible, drawing the hands back towards the shoulders.
5. This is one round.
6. The hands should make a complete circular
movement in every round, moving down the sides of the legs and trunk.
7. The legs should be kept straight throughout.
8. Reverse the direction of the rowing movement as though going in the opposite direction.
9. Practice 5 to 10 times.

**Inhale while leaning back.
**Exhale while bending forward.

Benefits:

1. This asana has a positive effect on the pelvic and abdominal region and releases energy blockages in these areas. It is especially useful for gynecological disorders and post-natal recovery. 

2. It also removes constipation.

5. Kashtha Takshanasana (Chopping Wood)

Instructions:

1. Squat with the feet flat on the floor.
2. The knees should be fully bent and separated.
3. Clasp the fingers of both hands together and place them just above the floor between the feet. 
4. Straighten the arms and keep them straight throughout the practice.
5. The elbows should be inside the knees.
6. Imagine the action of chopping wood. Raise the arms above and behind the head, stretching the spine upward.
7. Look up towards the hands.
8. Make a downward stroke with the arms, as if chopping wood. Expel the breath forcefully.
9. The hands should return near the floor in between the feet.
10. This is one round. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

**Inhale while raising the arms.
**Exhale while lowering the arms.
**Not for people with knee problems.
**Those people who find the squatting pose too difficult should practice in the standing position.

Benefits:

1. This asana loosens up the pelvic girdle and tones the pelvic muscles. 

2. It also has a special effect on the usually inaccessible muscles of the back between the shoulder blades, as well as the shoulder joints and upper back muscles.

3. It helps to release frustration and lighten the mood.

6. Namaskarasana (Salutation Pose)

Instructions:

1. Squat with the feet flat on the floor.
2. The knees should be wide apart and the elbows pressing against the inside of the knees.
3. Bring the hands together in front of the chest in a salutation gesture. This is the starting position.
4. Inhale and bend the head backwards. Feel the pressure at the back of the neck.
5. Simultaneously, use the elbows to push the knees as wide apart.
6. Hold this position for 3 seconds while retaining the breath.
7. Exhale and straighten the arms directly in front of the body.  
8. At the same time, push in with the knees, pressing the upper arms inward.
9. The head should be bent forward with the chin pressed against the chest.
10. Hold this position, retaining the breath, for 3 seconds.
11. Return to the starting position.
12. This is one round. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

**Inhale while bringing the palms together in front of the chest.
**Exhale while extending the arms forward.
**Not for people with knee problems.

Benefits:

This asana has a profound effect on the nerves and muscles of the thighs, knees, shoulders and neck. It increases flexibility in the hips.


7. Vayu Nishkasana (Wind Releasing Pose)


Instructions:

1. Squat with the feet flat on the floor.
2. Grasp the insteps of the feet, placing the fingers under the soles with the thumbs above.
3. The upper arms should be pressing against the inside of the knees with the elbows slightly bent.
4. Inhale while moving the head back. Direct the gaze upward.
5. This is the starting position.
6. Hold the breath for 3 seconds, accentuating the backward movement of the head.
7. While exhaling, straighten the knees, raise the buttocks and bring the head forward towards the knees.
8. Hold the breath for 3 seconds, accentuating the spinal bend. Do not strain.
9. Inhale and return to the starting position.
10. This is one round. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

**Inhale in the squatting position.
**Exhale in the raised position.
**Not for people with knee problems.
**People with very high blood pressure or arteriosclerosis should not practice this asana.

Benefits:

1.This pose has a beneficial effect on the nerves and muscles of the thighs, knees, shoulders, arms and neck. 
2. The pelvic organs and muscles are massaged.
3. It gives an equal stretch to the whole spine and both the arm and leg muscles. 
4. All the vertebrae and joints are pulled away from each other so that the pressure between them is balanced. Simultaneously, all the spinal nerves are stretched and toned.


8. Kauva Chalasana (Crow Walking)


Instructions:

1. Squat with the balls of the feet touching the ground and the heels off the floor.
2. Place the palms of the hands on the knees.
3. Take small steps in the squatting position.
4. For instance, right knee placed on the floor, then your right foot steps forward. Do the same for the left foot. This is the rhythm of the movement. 
5. Take as many steps as possible, up to 50, and then relax in shavasana.

**People suffering from disorders of the knees, ankles or toes should not practice this asana.

Benefits:

1. This asana prepares the legs for meditation asanas and improves blood circulation in the legs. 
2. It also helps to remove constipation.


9. Udarakarshanasana (Abdominal Stretch Pose)

Instructions:

1. Squat with the feet apart and the hands on the knees.
2. Inhale deeply.
3. Exhale, bringing the right knee to the floor near the left foot.
4. Using the left hand as a lever, push the left knee towards the right, simultaneously twisting to the left.
5. Try to squeeze the lower abdomen with the combined pressure of both thighs.
6. Look over the left shoulder.
7. Hold the breath out for 3 to 5 seconds in the final position.
8. Inhale when returning to the starting position.
9. Repeat on the other side of the body to complete one round.
10. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

**Not for people with knee problems.

Benefits:

1. This pose is very useful for abdominal ailments because it alternately compresses and stretches the organs and muscles of this region.
2. It also relieves constipation.


~M~

Reference and Images : Asana, Pranayama, Mudhra and Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati