Every posture of Yoga is designed in such a manner that the spine and the glands are stimulated in an accurate and healthy manner to allow the proper functioning of both the systems- the endocrine and the nervous systems. Ancient yogis believed that proper functioning of above two systems in the body can help keep diseases at bay. It is of vital importance that spine is given correct exercises to keep it lively and aligned and to avoid it from being rigid.
ANATOMY OF SPINE
The spinal column or the vertebral column which is known in layman’s language as backbone enables the humans to stand upright, bend and twist while supporting the body. The spine consists of 33 bones stacked on each other and are detached and cushioned by cartilages (intervertebral fibrocartilage) to keep the bones from rubbing against each other which otherwise causes the wear and tear of the bones.
The tissues called Ligaments hold the spinal bones and cartilages and provide strength to the backbone. Ligaments help hold vertebral bones in its place and also prevent them from moving thus preventing them from being misaligned and injured. Ligaments as well as tendons along with muscles stabilize and balance the backbone.
The spine has a hollow structure inside of it called spinal canal that protects the spinal cord from outward damages. The spinal cord is the important link between the brain and the rest of the body. Spinal code and brain make the Central Nervous System and are essential for humans to remain alive. The spinal cord consists of motor and sensory neurons that spread across the body in the form of a web. Sensory neurons carry impulses from the rest of the body parts to the Central Nervous System and the motor neurons send signals from the Central Nervous System to the other body parts. Spinal nerves control each area of the body and are responsible for the movements, actions and responses of the human to his environment.
Spinal cord is of vital importance to the humans without which brain and body could not communicate with each other. The delicate neurons which carry sensory impulses are protected with a spinal vertebrate that consists of bones.
Although the erect or the upright skeleton distinguishes humans from animals, human spine too has many curves. Those curves are said to improve the strength of the spine and absorb shocks and help strike the poses and balance of the body.
The spine is divided into four parts such as cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral and is slightly curved at each part. The four curves are again sub-divided into two parts namely primary curve (curving forward-includes sacral and thoracic) and the secondary curve (curving backwards- includes cervical and lumbar). These curves supported by the muscles that are present in the spine namely extensors and flexors also help the spinal movements which are four in number. They are extensions, flexions, side bending and twisting. This formation allows the human to stand, lift objects, bend forward and backward and to flex.
YOGA AND SPINE
The bipedal gait and the ability to lie on the backbone can be mentioned as advantages of the erect spine. The disadvantages associated are the tendency for ailments of spine such as back pain, neck pain, slipped disc, sciatica and scoliosis. Apart from that, complications in digestive and reproductive systems can occur too.
The shape and the position of the spine changes with aging of a person and Yoga postures can be of immense help for a person to maintain a healthy spine. Healthy spine is the key to a healthy and disease free lifestyle.
The functioning of the spine can get weaken due to injury, wear and tear and repeated binaccurate posture. People experience difficulty in lifting or picking things up, bending, twisting and turning around and moving the neck if the spine is not healthy. Sitting, sleeping and standing for a little long time also become difficult for the person who has problems with the spine. People with back and neck pain find it difficult to manage the day to day life and they are deprived of executing many activities. The quality of their life deteriorates due to inefficiency.
Ailments in the spine not only begin to arise at old age but can occur at an early age as twenties too. Many spine problems such as back and neck pain are resulted due to poor posture. Maintaining correct posture when sitting, standing as well as walking can help prevent the misaligning and damages to the spine.
Proper nutrition as well as exercises are key to spine health. There are many Yoga postures that can help keep the spine healthy and aligned while preventing damages that can occur to the spine.
The modern medical research has found out that Yoga postures can be adopted to restore the ligaments and the para-vertebral muscles that bind the bones of the spine which also act as shock- absorbers. Regular practice of Yoga can help person reduce obesity and to flatten fat belly which causes misalignment of the spine. Fat belly can induce strain on the spine can cause pain as a result.
As mentioned above practice of Yoga helps gaining a flexible spine and the Yoga Asanas that require bending forward, backward and sideward as well as sitting, lying down and standing are designed to exercise the spine for the proper functioning of the spine.
The Yoga postures help mobilize the joints in the spine and strengthen them while helping the proper circulation of blood. Asanas stretch the spinal ligaments and relieve the pressure exerted on the cartilages.
Yoga postures like Dhanurasana, Bhujangasana, Mathsyasana, Pawana Muktha Asana, Chakrasana, Shalabasana, Thadasana and Savasana can be practiced to keep the spine healthy and to restore it.
Today’s physiotherapists recommend Yoga Asanas for the patients with back and neck pain as the correct Asanas and their regular adaptation can heal spine related problems.