5 yoga poses to help you stay young
Yogic forward bends are known as youth elixirs. This is because they, like the inverted poses, fight gravity, create an opposite flow of blood that services circulatory routes in our face and head and even the torso, that are neglected due to the drag of gravity.
Forward bends are supposed to enhance memory, keep wrinkles and laughter lines at bay, prevent premature graying of hair, tone the face, provide nutrients and repairing agents to neglected parts of ourselves which shows up as wrinkles, sagging skin etc.
Since most people cannot do inversions due to various reasons, including timidity, they can attempt the forward bends with greater confidence. The standing forward-bends are particularly special because they also tone-up the entire spine and the body, including address obesity issues.
Shameem Akthar, yoga acharya trained with the international Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, shows you five forward bends that will keep you dynamic and youthful.
These poses, though easy to practice, need guidance of a yoga teacher. Attempt them only if you have some yoga practice already on. For more on Shameem's yoga writings and workshops, go to http://jaisivananda.blogspot.com
For more on Shameem's yoga writings and workshops, go to http://jaisivananda.blogspot.com
Image: A collage of yoga poses to keep you young
Photographs: Jahnavi Sheriff
Padahastasana (Standing forward bend)
Also called uttanasana. Stand up straight. Inhale, raising hands overhead. Exhale, extend hands out in front as if reaching for wall in front of you. Keeping lowering hands till they reach the feet. If that is not possible, touch your legs where you can. Hand the head low now. Continue normal breathing.
In the first few weeks you may bend knees slightly, but later try to keep the legs straight for maximising benefits. Hold the pose, breathing normally. Release. Repeat a few times. After a few weeks learn to hold the pose for longer.
Avoid: If having lower back pain or very high blood pressure.
Benefits: Helps lose weight, control diabetes. Prevents age-related bone shrinkage. Keeps face young and wrinkle-free.
Image: Padahastasana (Standing forward bend)
Padahastasana (Advanced version)
Do as shown in the previous slide. However interlock fingers, as shown. Inhale. Exhaling, bend forward so head reaches towards thighs.
Simultaneously extend arms behind, as high as possible. Hold the pose, breathing normally, as long as you can.
Benefits and other points: As mentioned in the previous slide. The hands and upper back get a great tone.
Image: Padahastasana (Advanced version)
Prasarita padottanasana (Wide-legged spread angle pose)
Stand with feet a meter or so apart. Feet should be pointed straight ahead. Inhale, lifting both hands up. Exhale, lower both hands down, to touch the floor.
Continue normal breathing. Push your hips back further, look ahead. Hold the pose for a few seconds, increase duration with regular practice.
Benefits: Tones the spine. Ups mood. Builds stamina. Tones whole body.
Image: Prasarita padottanasana (Wide-legged spread angle pose)
Prasarita padottanasana (Wide-legged spread angle pose, advanced version)
Do as shown in the previous slide. However, place both palms flat on the ground. Then gently slide feet even more apart, then shifting weight on your legs, gently lower head between the palms.
Hold for as long as you can. To release, walk feet back to the center, stand up.
Benefits: Same as above, more intense. The sense of balance and mental focus are sensitised and improved.
Image: Prasarita padottanasana (Wide-legged spread angle pose, advanced version)
Moordhasana (Crown-based pose)
Stand with feet a meter across. Then pass hands behind, to interlock fingers. Inhale. Exhaling lean forward to place crown on the floor. Walk your feet more apart, if needed to ensure you are not bending at the knees. Hold the pose, extending arms behind, as high and away from the body as possible.
Breathe normally through out. To release from pose, release hands, walk feet back to centre, to stand up.
Benefits and caution: Is more intense than all the other above poses, tones the whole body and mind superbly. This is an advanced pose that calls for a well-developed sense of balance and may be only attempted to by those who are really flexible, fit and/or already practicing intermediate level yoga.
Image: Moordhasana (Crown-based pose)