By-Gouri Choundikar is a Consultant Physiotherapist at Chellaram Diabetes Institute, Pune.

Gouri Choundikar explains in detail some of the basic forms of yoga.Setubandhasana apnoeaIn Sanskrit 'Bridge' means 'Setu', 'Bandha' means 'Lock' and 'Asana' means 'Pose'.

Setubandhasana apnoea

In Sanskrit 'Bridge' means 'Setu', 'Bandha' means 'Lock' and 'Asana' means 'Pose'. .Since the pose looks like the shape of the bridge, it is called the bridge pose i.e. Setubandhasana.

How it is done

  • Lie flat on the ground and keep your arms at your sides and palms facing down.

  • Press your upper arms and feet into the floor. Now lift your hips, upper back, mid back and lower back upwards as much you can (do not over-stretch) with the help of pressing your palms. Try to distribute your weight equally on your feet.

  • Move your breastbone towards your chin, keeping your chin lifted only slightly as not to flatten the back of the neck.

  • Keep breathing deeply in this position for some time i.e. 20-30 seconds.

To come out of the pose

  • Release posture on exhalation,

  • Rolling your spine slowly down onto the floor.

  • Repeat this cycle for 3-4 times.


  • Strengthens the core, legs, back, neck and chest.

  • Relaxes whole body.

  • Reduces stress.

  • Calms the brain and reduces anxiety.

  • Relieves back pain.

  • Helps relieve symptoms of menopause.


"Sarvanga" means "whole body part" and "asana" means "pose". This asana provides benefits to entire body so in Sanskrit it is called Sarvangasana. It is also known as shoulder stand pose.

How it is done

  • Lie on your back with arms at the side of your body and palms facing the floor.

  • Bring your hands to your lower back for support, ensuring that your fingers are spread wide.

  • Slowly, lift your legs to the ceiling, one leg at a time.

  • Try to get them as straight as possible by placing your hands close to your shoulders.

To come out of the pose

  • Exhale and bend your legs at the knees.

  • Bring your thighs lower to the stomach and gently lower your buttocks and bring it towards the floor.

  • Release your hands and bring them to the sides.

  • Lie on the floor to relax your whole body.

Note – For beginners, stay in the pose for 30 seconds and gradually increase the time .You could also ask someone to hold your legs or support it against a wall. Gradually with practice the duration can be increased to 5 mins. Breathe evenly.

Caution – Do not practice this pose during menstruation. People with high blood pressure should do it only under proper guidance and for lesser duration.


  • Stimulates your thyroid gland and stretches your neck and spine.

  • Strengthens the core , arms , lower back and spinal muscles

  • Relieves breathlessness and palpitations

  • Relieves insomnia and soothes the nerves


"Hala" means "plough" in Sanskrit. Since the body takes the shape of a plough this pose is called as Halasana.

How it is done

  • Lie down flat on your back and lift your legs.

  • Bring your arms alongside your body with palms facing down.

  • Press into your hands, exhale and lift your buttocks off the floor and bring your knees to your chest.

  • Raise your hips and buttocks; and roll it towards your head.

  • Bring your knees close to your chin and your shins perpendicular to the floor.

Note: For beginners ask some to hold your ankles and push your legs towards your head once your buttocks are off the floor.

Caution – Do not practice if you are suffering from cervical spondylitis, diarrhoea or ischemia. Avoid practising this pose during menstruation.


  • This pose increases circulation in your thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands.

  • Stretches the spine and improves its alignment.

  • Relieves fatigue and improves energy levels.

  • Improves digestion.

Dhanurasana – (Bow pose in prone position)

"Dhanur" means "bow". It is called the bow pose.

How it is done

  • Lie on your stomach with feet hip-width apart and arms by the side of your body.

  • Bend your knees and hold the ankles.

  • Breathing in, lift your chest off the ground and pull your legs up and back.

  • Look straight ahead with a smile on your face. Curve your hips to match the curve of your body.

  • Keep the pose stable while paying attention to your breathing. Your body is now taut as a bow.

  • Continue to take deep long breaths as you relax in this pose.

  • Do not overdo the stretch.

To come out of the pose

  • After 15 -20 seconds, as you exhale, gently bring your legs and chest to the ground.

  • Release the ankles and relax.

More advanced: While in the Bow position, rock back and forth, then from side to side. Slowly release and exhale.

Caution – This pose is not advisable for persons suffering from peptic ulcer, hernia or cases of thyroid or endocrine gland disorders, lower back disorders and during menstruation


  • Massages abdominal muscles and organs.

  • Good for gastrointestinal disorders, constipation, upset stomach and sluggish liver.

  • Reduces abdominal fat


Balasana, also known as child's pose, is a resting pose practiced in the foetal position. The name is derived from the Sanskrit words "bala" and "asana", which translate to "child" and "pose" respectively.

How it is done

  • Sit on a yoga mat.

  • Begin the asana by kneeling down on your knees. Set your knees a little wide apart in the same way as your hips. It should be in proportion with your hips i.e. the distance between both the hips and both the knees should be the same.

  • Your toes must be facing the ground.

  • Now sit straight in Vajrasana position. Here, your spine has to be straight.

  • Now exhale slowly and bend your body forwards towards your thighs. Your forehead should touch the ground.

  • Place your hands besides your legs in a way that they should completely rest on the ground and should be relaxed.

  • Once you touch the ground with your forehead, close eyes and count your breathe. Slowly inhale and exhale. Relax your body in this position for a while. (Here you can hold up to a minute or more, depending upon your capacity. Do not strain your body.)

  • After you release, go back to Vajrasana position and then come out of the asana.

Caution – Do not practise this pose if you suffer from knee injuries or problems like cartilage or ligament tears ankle problems. Also avoid this pose if you have high blood pressure, eye or ear infections, and diarrhoea and are pregnant.


  • Gently stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankles

  • Relaxes you spine, shoulders and neck

  • Increases blood circulation to your head which reduces headaches

  • Massages your internal organs

  • Calms the mind thus helping relieve stress and tension


The seated forward bend provides a complete stretch of the entire backside of the body from the back of the head through the heels.

How it is done

  • Sit with legs straight. Rest your hands on the thighs. Inhale the arms up over the head and lift and lengthen up through the fingers and crown of the head.

  • Exhale and hinging at the hips, slowly lower the torso towards the legs. Reach the hands to the toes, feet or ankles.

  • To deepen the stretch:

    • Use the arms to gently pull the head and torso closer to the legs.

    • Press out through the heels and gently draw the toes towards you.

  • Breathe and hold for 3-8 breaths.

To come out of the pose

  • Slowly roll up the spine back into staff pose.

  • Inhale the arms back over your head as you lift the torso back into staff pose.

Caution:- Do not practice this pose if you have back problems, asthma or diarrhoea.


  • Stretches and lengthens the muscles of the back (spine)

  • Activates kidney and pancreas function

  • Stretches the hamstrings on the back of the legs

  • Massages the internal organs, especially the digestive organs

  • Relieves digestive problems such as constipation

  • Relieves problems with sciatica (pain affecting the back)

  • Stimulates the nervous system

  • Improves blood circulation in the pelvic area

  • Reduces stress in the facial muscles

Vajrasana (Yoga Mudra)

Normally, asanas should be performed on an empty stomach. But, Vajrasana is one of the few exceptions. This asana can be done immediately after a meal. In fact, it is most effective after a meal and aids in proper digestion. Vajrasana or the kneeling yoga pose is also called the diamond or the thunderbolt pose. The name comes from the Sanskrit word 'Vajra' which can mean 'thunderbolt' or 'diamond'.

How it is done

  • While in sitting position, bend your left leg and bring the foot to the left buttock. Bend your right leg and place the right foot next to the left foot. Shift the weight forward to the toes. Bring your knees to the ground, toes together, heels apart and sit between your heels. Keep the right palm on right knee and left palm on left knee.

  • Keep the spine straight and close your eyes.

  • Now start to inhale slowly and then exhale.

  • When you exhale try to think that your disorders are coming out from your nose.

  • Repeat these steps for 5 minutes and take rest. You can increase the time to 15 minutes. In the initial stages, you may experience pain in your legs when you sit in this position. When that happens, undo the asana and stretch your legs. Massage the ankles, knees and calf muscles with your hand.

Caution – Avoid this asana if you have knee pain or undergone knee surgery


  • Calms the mind.

  • Relieves constipation, acidity and improves digestion.

  • Those suffering from gas problems can practice immediately after lunch or dinner.

  • Stretches the thigh muscles and the abdomen.

  • Cures urinary problems.

  • Strengthens sexual organs.

  • Preferred for meditation and improving concentration.

  • Strengthens the thigh muscles.


Half spinal twist. This asana involves a strong twist of the spine and abdomen.

How it is done

  • Sit on the floor with both legs straight.

  • Bend the left leg and place the left foot on the ground over the right knee.

  • Bend the right leg and fold it so that it is resting on the ground with the right heel near the left buttock.

  • Bring the right hand over the left leg and grab the big toe of the left foot.

  • Inhale and exhaling twist the trunk of the body as much as possible, turning the neck so the gaze is over the left shoulder and encircle the waist with the left hand with the palm facing outwards. Continue to maintain the asana, breathing normally.

  • The right arm is pressed against the left knee and the left arm is wrapped behind the back, leading to an increased twist on the body. The chest is open and the spine is erect. One side of the abdomen is compressed and the other side is stretched. The right leg and knee remains on the floor. The left knee should be close to the right armpit.

To come out of the pose

  • Inhale and while exhaling turn the neck back to face the front.

  • Release the hands and place them beside the body.

  • Straighten the right leg.

  • Straighten the left leg and return to sitting position.

  • Practice the same on the opposite side.

Caution – Do not practice the pose if you have undergone heart, abdominal and brain surgery. This asana is also avoided if you experience severe spine problems, are pregnant and during menstruation. Also this asana should be done with extreme care if you have peptic ulcer or hernia.


  • Stretches the spine, tones the spinal nerves and improves the functioning of the spinal cord.

  • Stretches the muscles on one side of the body whilst compressing the muscles on the other side.

  • Relieves back pain and stiffness from between the vertebrae.

  • Massages the abdominal organs.

  • Opens the chest and increases the oxygen supply to the lungs.

  • Relieves stiff hip joints.

  • Releases tension in the arms, shoulders, upper back and neck.

  • Improves round shoulders.


Wind-Relieving Pose – helps release abdominal gas

How it is done

With both legs

  • Exhale and while inhaling, start raising both the legs. Bend both the legs in the knees and keep the abdomen pressed with the thighs

  • Clasp the folded legs with both the hands, raise your neck and head and fix your chin between the knees.

  • The calves should also be pressed against the thighs so that when the hands clasp the legs, the desired pressure can supported by the abdomen.

With 1 leg at a time –

  • Lie on your back with your feet together and arms beside your body.

  • Breathe in and as you exhale, bring your right knee towards your chest and press the thigh on your abdomen with clasped hands.

  • Breathe in again and as you exhale, lift your head and chest off the floor and touch your chin to your right knee.

  • Hold it there, as you take deep, long breaths in and out.

Note: Checkpoint: As you exhale, tighten the grip of the hands on the knee and increase the pressure on the chest. As you inhale, loosen the grip.

  • As you exhale, come back to the ground and relax.

  • Repeat this pose with the left leg and then with both legs together.


  • Strengthens the back and abdominal muscles.

  • Tones the leg and arm muscles.

  • Massages the intestines and other organs in the abdomen.

  • Aids digestion and release of gas.

  • Enhances blood circulation in the hip joints and eases tension in the lower back.

Caution – Do not practice this pose if you have high blood pressure, heart problems, hyperacidity, hernia, slip disc, testicle disorder, neck and back problems.

Gouri Choundikar is a Consultant Physiotherapist at Chellaram Diabetes Institute, Pune.

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