Two-Footed Bridge Pose (Dvipada Pitham)
Justification : Backbend symmetrical frame
Physical Benefits: Stretches the iliopsoas, quadriceps and hamstrings. Tones and warms up the back muscles, Stimulates the hips, stretches the spine, strengthens the legs. Opens the chest, neck and spine.
Therapeutic Benefits : Improves digestion. Reduces fatigue, anxiety and insomnia. Activates thyroid gland. Reduces high blood pressure, asthma, and osteoporosis. Relieves symptoms of menopause.
Limitations : To be avoided if you have a neck injuries
How To Practice : Lying on your back, extend your arms along the sides of the body, palms facing down. Bend your knees with feet firmly on the floor and as close to the buttocks as possible. Inhale and press the hips towards the ceiling, keeping the toes pointed inward, knees hip-width apart. Hold for 4 deep breaths and on the exhale roll the spine back down vertebra by vertebra. Repeat 5 – 8 times.
Tips : Avoid letting the knees to fall to the sides. Keep them directly above the ankles and aligned with the sitting bones. Relax the buttocks.
Cobra Pose, variations (Bhujangasana)
Type : Prone
Complimentary pose : Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Savanasna)
Physical Benefits: Strengthens the muscles that support the sacrum. Releases stiffness in lower back. Relieves sciatica and discomfort in abdomen, neck and back. Strengthens spine, arms and shoulders. Opens the chest and clears the lungs. Firms the buttocks. Stimulates the metabolism, as well as the reproductive and digestive systems. Stimulates kidneys and improves blood circulation. Improves digestion. Improves menstrual irregularities. Relieves asthma.
Therapeutic Benefits : Relieves stress, fatigue and even depression.
Limitations : Back injuries, hernia, pregnancy, recent abdominal surgery, headache
How to practice : Lying on your stomach, place your hands on the floor just under your armpits. Taking care to place the sacrum and lumbars correctly, lift the right leg and turn the thigh inwardand let it return to the mat. Lift the left leg and turn the thigh inward and let it come back to the mat. Big toes should be touching each other.
Phase I : On the inhale, roll the shoulders back, open the sternum and bring the shoulder-blades together and down. Press your hands into the mat rolling the shouldersback and down and lift the sternum up to the ceiling. Keep your elbows pinned to the sides of your torso. Look up to the ceiling. Take 3 breaths and come back down on the exhale. Make a pillow for your forehead with the back of your hands. Catch your breath and relax. Alternate rolling both of the thighsinward to prepare the lower back for :
Phase II : Place both hands just slightly under the armpits ; roll the shoulders back on the inhale, press both hands into the mat and lift the sternum up to the ceiling up to the bellybutton, keeping the pubis bone anchored towards the mat. Again, keep your elbows pinned to the sides of your torso. Take 3 breaths and come back down on the exhale. Place one hand on top of the other and rest your forehead. Let the emotions pass and relax. Alternate rolling both of the thighs inward to prepare the lower back for :
Phase III : Place both hands just slightly under the armpits ; roll the shoulders back on the inhale, press both hands into the mat and lift the sternum up to the ceiling, shoulders rolled back and down, elbows tucked into the sides. Now try to slide the pelvis between the arms (you can even try sliding the mat forwards with the movement of your toes). Hold for 3 breaths and on the exhale come back down. Rest your forehead on your hands.
Counter-pose/ Adho Mukha Svanasana- transition from Table Top (all fours) and finally to Adho Mukha Virasana