Yoga for Computer Users: Supported Side Stretches
Many computer users around the world face the problem of back pain. Having your back against the wall usually means you’re in trouble. But for certain yoga positions, having your back firmly against a wall will aid health.
In Hatha Yoga, the practitioner forms what Swami Gitananda calls body geometry–triangles, straight lines, circles and parallel lines. When you do a posture, always stretch your body to its utmost limit and then hold it there for a slow count of 10, gradually building up the time, until each posture can be maintained for 30 seconds. Holding a posture is essential to yoga because it gives the body a chance to settle into the stretch and loosen up. Then each time you stretch it will be just that little bit farther.
Many of the sideways, or lateral, stretches in Hatha Yoga require that the body face forward, with hips level and back and spine tilting neither forward nor back. Beginners tend to lean forward to increase the stretch. But leaning forward is wrong and will actually detract from benefits and possibly cause harm. To perform these stretches properly, make sure to keep your spine firmly against a wall. The wall acts as a prop. Even those who have practiced yoga may find that they cannot bend as far as they thought they could when they do the postures properly. The extra time spent in forming careful postures will pay off: Your body will gain excellent flexibility and strength.
Yoga for Computer Users: Other Postures
The Diamond Posture (Vajrasana)
Kneel on a thick carpet or blanket with your knees close together. Sit back on your heels and stretch up from your hips, balancing your head well so that a line drawn through ear, shoulder, elbow and hip would be straight. You should sit up in this posture for greatest benefits.
The Locust (Salabhasana)
Most yoga students are familiar with this posture. Lie flat, face down, chin on floor. Make your hands into fists and push them either under your thighs to help the lift, or place them alongside your body. Exhale and lift legs from your hips, tightening your buttocks and stretching your legs up and back. Hold position for as long as possible, exhale, return to starting posture and repeat.
The Dog Stretch (Adho mukha svanasana)
Lie face down, legs stretched back, buttocks tightened and knees pulled back. Place hands just below shoulders, exhale and lift head, then chest, shoulders and torso, pushing down from your pelvis and straightening your arms. From the back of your head to your tailbone, your body should be curved back. Push shoulders back and down. Push head back more. Stay like this as long as possible with normal breathing. Come down very slowly, and relax.
The Twist (Bhardwajasana)
Kneel on the floor and sit back, bringing both feet to the right of your hips. Straighten your right arm, bring it across your body and turn to the left. Place your hand, palm down under your left knee. Exhale, turn your body more to the left and clasp your right elbow with your left hand, from the back. Turn your head and gaze over your right shoulder. Fold position for a few breaths and then twist and look back over your left shoulder. Shoulders should be at right angles to the body. Come back to starting position and repeat on other side. You should do this posture once every hour if you have lower back pain.
Stand with your back against the wall. Place your feet two or three feet apart. Keeping feet firmly on the floor, and weight balanced on heels and toes, stretch your body up, pressing shoulders back and allowing arms to hang at your sides (Fig. 1). Inhale.
Exhale and slowly bend from waist, sliding your right hand down the right side as far as it will go. Shoulders should press back and hips should remain level, pointing forward. Head should be turned to the side, so that it’s at a right angle to the body. Hold posture for 10 slow counts, inhale and come up to starting position. Exhale and repeat on left. Inhale and come up to starting position.
Exhale and rest a moment. Inhale and slowly raise arms to shoulder level, palms down. At the same time, point the right foot to the right at a 90-degree angle while keeping the left foot turned in slightly. Exhale and bend to the right, sliding hand down to ankle or foot. If possible, touch the ground behind foot. Pull hip square against wall with left hand and turn head to look up.
Inhale and raise left arm straight up over head so that arms are in a straight line. Keep hips and torso against the wall as both arms stretch, one down and one up, touching the wall. Hold posture with smooth, even breathing for a slow count of 10. Inhale, come up and repeat on left.
Benefits: Trikonasana helps produce excellent spinal flexibility. It stretches the legs, back and neck and helps to loosen up the hips and make them strong and flexible. It is also, to some extent, a balance posture; in yoga, it is believed that the skill developed in physical balance has a profound effect on the mind, quieting unruly emotions and creating calm. It is one of the best postures for slimming the waist, hips, arms and legs. Remember to breathe deeply in when stretching up and breathe deeply out when bending the body downward.