You Are As Young As Your Spine

By Dr. Rita Khanna

General: Back pain is the pain at the end of spinal column and in the muscles connecting the bones. Both young and old get this pain and if it is not treated in time the disease takes a permanent shape. Ladies suffer backache to a great extent during the period of menstruation. At times this pain may result in fever if it is excessive. In general, the neck and back problems are referred to by various names, such as arthritis, spondylosis, rheumatism, fibrosis, slip disc etc. and when the pain extends to arms and legs it is termed as neuritis and neuralgia. In fact, all visceral organs are innervated through the spinal cord.

Anatomy of the Spine: Nature has provided us with long, strong and hardy bones in the back region of the body. The spine is made up of thirty- three small bones called vertebrae. These are held together by ropes called ligaments and in turn are protected by muscles, which are strongest in the body. The spine, or back, carries out very important jobs in the overall functioning of our body.

To understand its role in the daily functioning of the body we first need to have some understanding of its physical composition. Within the vertebrae of the back there is a canal, known as the “spinal canal”, in which runs the spinal cord. The spinal cord is the tail of the brain and descends to the near end tail of the spine, stopping a few inches short, at the level of second lumbar vertebra.

At the junction of these two vertebrae there is a hole on each side, through which emerge the spinal nerves. These nerves service and supply muscles, skin and other organs situated in the respective area. They also carry the information and orders to the brain, which allow us to deal with situations and function on a daily basis. We can begin to understand, therefore, that these nerves play a very important & vital role in the functioning of the body.

The backbone is divided into different regions:

  • Cervical region, the neck area
  • Dorsal region, the chest area
  • Lumbar region, the abdominal area
  • Sacral region, the pelvic area
  • Coccyx region, the tail bone area

Out of these regions, the bones of the lumbar region are the strongest and are protected by thick, strong muscles. This is because it has to endure the traumas and weight of our body whilst we are seated and is the area of the spine where most wear and tear takes place. Seeing how we spend 40- 50% of our whole lives sitting, we need the lumbar region to be tough and resilient. Back problems most commonly affect the lumbar region and when it is confined to this area alone it is called lumbago.

Many back problems and aches are caused due to wrong postures, modern food habits, negligence, lack of exercise, tension, stress, migraine, neck and back problems, or overweight etc. As we get older, or if we suffer repeated back trauma, muscles can also go into spasms as they lose their elasticity. In old age backache can also be caused due to the “brittleness” of the vertebrae (osteoporosis) or due to the degeneration of these bones from wear and tear. This stimulates the muscles, sending them into spasms, or it can press on the nerves causing nervous pain.

Yogic Cure: In Yoga great emphasis has been given to the spinal region. This is largely because it is thought that the main energy of our emotional body, which surrounds the physical body, the aura, runs along the spine in Sushumna Nadi.

This is synonymous with the central spinal canal. Whilst the energy travels in this canal in both directions, it mostly travels upwards from Mooladhara chakra to Sahasrara chakra. With this action, energy is supplied to all parts of the body through different nadis or nerves. Correct posture whether we are sitting, standing or walking is vital in looking after our spinal region. There are lots of Yoga Asanas, which have been described for this purpose, of which I have selected few, which can easily be performed by every individual.

Makarasana: Crocodile Pose

Position of Readiness: Lie down on your back with legs straight and together. Bring the feet close to your hips, keep them together and flat on the floor. Interlock your fingers below your head.

Steps of Actual Practice: Without lifting the elbows, inhale and start moving your head and knees in the opposite directions repeatedly. Stretch the spine to the maximum. Do this according to your capacity. When done, come back and exhale.

Benefits: It is proved to be very useful in relieving the waist pains, neck pains, spondylosis, and displacement of the spinal disc.

Kati-Uthanasana / Ardha Chakrasana

Position of Readiness: Lie down on your back with legs straight and together. Bring the heels close to your hips. Keep them slightly apart and flat on the floor. Hold the ankles or if you cannot hold them just keep the palms on the ground near the feet.

Steps of Actual Practice: Inhale and lift the hips and waist upwards as much as you can, breathe normally while remaining in this position, exhale and come back. Repeat this asana two or three times.

Benefits: It helps in relieving back pain.

Ardha Bhujangasana:

Position of Readiness: Lie face down on the abdomen with legs straight and apart, forehead on the floor.

Steps of Actual Practice: Place the hands directly under the shoulders. Inhale; raise your head and chest upward with forearms resting on the floor. When done, exhale and come back.

Benefits: It cures neck and waist pain. Cures slip disc and cervical spondylosis.


Position of Readiness: Lie face down on the abdomen with legs straight and together, forehead on the floor.

Steps of Actual Practice: Place the hands directly under the shoulders. Inhale; raise the upper part of the body as high as you can. Draw your head far back by stretching the arms fully. Only go as far as you are comfortable. When done, exhale and come back.

Benefits: One gets pressure on the end of spinal column by this exercise and back pain gets relief.


Position of Readiness: Lie face down on the abdomen with legs straight and apart, forehead on the floor.

Steps of Actual Practice: Place both the arms behind your back. Interlock the fingers. Inhale; raise your chest, head and legs. The shape of the body will resemble a boat. When done, exhale and come back.

Benefits: This practice relieves pain in waist appreciably.

Ushtrasana – Camel Pose:

Position of Readiness: Sit in Vajrasana

Steps of Actual Practice: From Vajrasana stand up on your knees. Keep the knees and feet slightly apart. Place your hands on your back. Arch back and place your palms one by one on to the soles of your feet. Exhale and bend the neck fully. Push the pelvic region forward. When done, inhale and slowly return to the starting position.

In the initial stages this will be found a little difficult but once you get used to the position you will feel very good. (In the meantime just cross the arms at the chest and bend backwards.)

Benefits: Ushtrasana has proved a panacea and a boon for all the pain in the waist, hump and cervical spondylosis.

Neck Exercise:

Sit in a comfortable posture with your neck and back straight. You can sit in cross-legged, or in padhmasana, or in dandasana or in Vajrasana or on a chair or recline on your back with elbows on the floor in padhmasana. Relax and keep your eyes open or closed. Place both of your palms at the knees in. Mentally get ready for the neck movement.

1. Slowly bend your head forwards and try to touch your chest with your chin. Inhale as you move forwards. Now exhale as you bend your head backwards as much as you can but do not strain your neck. Repeat this 10 times.

Contraindications: Cervical spondylitis

2. Exhale and Move your neck towards the right shoulder, inhale and return it to normal position, exhale and move your neck towards the left shoulder as far as possible, inhale and return it to normal position. This is the first cycle.

Repeat this ten times on each side. Feel the tension release in the neck muscles and the loosening of the neck joints. Never exert any pressure at your neck.

3. Exhale and bend your head towards your right shoulder, inhale and straighten the head then exhale and bend it towards your left shoulder as far as possible, inhale and come back to the centre without raising the shoulders. This is the first cycle. Repeat this exercise ten times.

4. Now very slowly rotate your head clockwise and then anti clockwise like this. Exhale and bend your neck forward. Allow the chin to touch your chest. Now inhale and rotate the head downward, to the right, backward and then to the left side in a relaxed, smooth, rhythmic, circular movement. This is the first cycle of the exercise. Do these ten times in both the direction.

Contraindications: Old aged persons, Person suffering from high or low blood pressure, and cervical spondylitis.

Immediately stop the exercise if you feel dizzy. Keep your eyes closed and recline in the Shavasana pose, only when you feel better, proceed further.

Note: While doing neck exercise, move only the neck and not the shoulders.

Overall Benefits: All the nerves connecting the different organs and limbs of the body pass through the neck. Sometimes the neck muscles get stiff due to bad physical or mental health. This stiffness also affects the blood flow and the various information passing through the nerves.

These asanas release tension, heaviness and stiffness in the head, neck and shoulder regions. Useful for those who work in the bended position for long hours. They are also useful for treating spondylitis and thyroid related problems.

Shithilasana on the stomach- Left Side / right side – Relaxation Pose

Position of Readiness: Lie face down on the abdomen.

Steps of Actual Practice: Place your head lo left side. Draw the left foot near the right knee and left hand near the face. Right arm is straight by your right side. Relax the whole body. Breathe slowly. For right side reverse the movements.

Benefits: This Asana provides rest to all parts of the body. It relaxes the muscles and is good for keeping mind calm and cool. It is a good sleeping posture too.

Bhramari pranayama:

Position of Readiness for Pranayama: Sit with straight spine in a Padmasana or you can sit in any other easy Asana. Close your eyes gently and be calm and rest the back of the wrists on the knees, join the tips of the index fingers to the tips of the thumbs while keeping the other fingers extended.

Steps of Actual Practice: Inhale deeply and slowly through both the nostrils each time; just do humming with lips closed. This is one round. Make few more rounds like this.

Benefits: By performing this Pranayama the speed of blood circulation increases. The practice of Bhramari Pranayama is helpful in the pain connected with all the joints and muscles.

In so doing we can avoid / cure most of the ailments of the back. Take care not to over stretch.

Dr. Rita Khanna is a well-known name in the field of yoga and Naturopathy. She believes firmly that Yoga is a scientific process, which helps us to lead a healthy and disease-free life. She is also actively involved in practicing alternative medicines like Naturopathy.

At present, Dr. Rita Khanna is teaching Yoga in Secunderabad. She has been treating and curing various diseases and disorders through Yoga, Diet and Naturopathy and has been achieving tremendous satisfaction in disseminating this virtue.

She can be contacted on +91-98497 72485


 Yoga and Cancer

By Faye Martins

Cancer is a word riddled with fear and apprehension. Those whose lives have been affected by the debilitating disease have firsthand knowledge and experience of what it can do while the rest of us can only stand by and hope we might dodge the bullet. There are many types of cancer, some more vigorous than others. The various ways that people cope with cancer are as different as the types. Some let the cancer take over as innocent onlookers, giving up all control, while others face the disease with fierce determination to survive.

Typical cancer treatments involve chemotherapy, radiation and other medications. Many patients also turn to gentle yoga training as a way to cope with the emotional stresses of the disease. Therapeutic Yoga training has proven to be a viable treatment for cancer patients, not to cure the disease but to help one’s mind and body cope with the disease. Meditation helps clear the mind and gain a new perspective on life while the breathing exercises will help cleanse the body of toxins and bring new energy into the body.

When the diagnosis of cancer is given, it is often seen as a death sentence. Anxiety and stress spike to high levels, putting the body on high alert. This environment is not conducive to healing and can actually encourage the disease to spread. What the body needs is a release of tension to encourage healing. Relaxation and meditation through yoga can allow patients to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They can find inner peace and strength that will allow them to fight the disease until remission.

Yoga can bring cancer patients more energy and vitality, even at the lowest points of their health and well-being. Whether someone is a beginner or experienced in yoga, the asanas can always be modified and adjusted to suit the needs of those undergoing harsh chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Even if a patient must lie on their mat without coming to an upright position, yoga can still help. It brings people strength, flexibility and stamina.

A mental attitude toward disease is a huge and important aspect of healing that should never be underestimated. Cancer patients must be able to find peace with the disease and be able to seek a higher truth. By coming to terms with the disease and focusing on wellness, patients will allow the body’s cells to do the best they can at healing holistically.

© Copyright 2006 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

Yoga Benefits for Stroke Survivors

By Faye Martins

The effects of a stroke vary, depending on the severity of it. When a stroke occurs, the brain is deprived of oxygen resulting in loss of memory and speech, agility, movement and balance. Along with the physical side effects of a stroke come a host of emotional issues as a result of these drastic life changes. Yoga has proven to be an effective type of therapy for stroke patients as it helps with both the physical and mental side effects of the stroke. There are many benefits of incorporating yoga training into a rehabilitation program.

Improved Balance

Asanas improve balance, even when they are modified to accommodate patients who cannot walk, stand or even sit on their own. Patients can use a number of different props when working with a trained yoga therapist or yoga instructor. Over time, patients can learn which poses are most beneficial for them. They can then employ the postures during other times of the day when they are not in a physical therapy session.

Greater Independence

As patients improve their balance, it becomes easier to perform tasks unassisted. Getting dressed, tying shoes and other daily tasks become easier so patients have more independence than when the stroke initially occurred. Many patients will live with the side effects of a stroke for the rest of their lives, so it’s important to become as independent as possible.

Better Attitude

A natural companion to greater independence achieved through yoga therapy is a better attitude toward life and recovery. A stroke can have huge emotional effects on patients, as there lives are forever changed. Suddenly, they are unable to do the most ordinary of tasks unassisted. As mobility returns, so does confidence and motivation to press on. The meditative portion of a yoga routine teaches patients healthy ways to release negative emotions while replacing them with positive thoughts. Breathing techniques can allow patients to live in the moment and be grateful for every small gift each day brings.

Long-Term Benefits

Depending on the severity of the stroke, many patients visit a physical or occupational therapist for a designated period of time. After that, the patient must decide whether they need to hire in-home care or enlist friends and family to help. Yoga can be an on-going therapy that will continue to produce results over time. Once patients know the asanas they can continue to do them on a daily basis, continually improving balance, agility, strength, stamina and attitude.

Specialist Yoga Teacher Training

Some patients are looking for teachers with specialized Yoga certification. With this in mind, specific Yoga instructor training for teaching therapeutic Yogic exercises to patients is a wise decision for the teacher who wants to work with diversified students.

© Copyright 2006 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division