The art of yoga have benefited different people in different ways for centuries. At present, the discipline has gained immense popularity the world over.
"Yoga brings internal change. It controls the all-important nervous system and helps control anger, depression, frustration and other negative feelings. It is food for the mind and body," says Payal Gidwani Tiwari, fitness and yoga expert and author of 'From XL to XS' and 'Body Goddess.'
Yoga guru Bharat Thakur, too, agrees with Tiwari. "Yoga with its combination of asanas, kriyas, pranayama, bandhas, relaxation techniques and meditation helps the system and organs of the body function more effectively," says Thakur.
However, there's often been a confusion about which asana will benefit whom. "If someone suffers from stomach ailments such as indigestion, a number of reasons might be responsible for this. It may be because of food habits, it may be psychosomatic or it might be the result of a different physical complication. The exercises given to the person will be different depending on the ailment. Hence, even if the height, weight and complication are same, the asanas prescribed to two people may be different," says Dr Indrani Pramanik, assistant professor, The Calcutta Homeopathic Medical College & Hospital.
Here's a list of common ailments and asanas to help alleviate your pain and discomfort. However, it is important that you do these exercises under the supervision of an expert.
1) Heart and circulation
Ailments: Varicose veins, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, hypertension, blocked arteries, heart attack.
Asanas: Vajrasana, Gomukhasana, Ardha Shalabasana, Padmasana and Anulom-Vilom Pranayam.
How it helps
Vajrasana: It enhances the supply of blood to the upper part of the body. It improves digestion and helps build stamina.
Gomukhasana: It helps to make the back flexible and remove stiffness from shoulders and alleviates back pain. It also helps in the treatment of sciatica, develop the chest, stimulates the kidneys and control diabetes.
Ardha Shalabhasana: It relieves stiffness of shoulders, spine and legs, strengthens lower back, abdominal organs, sciatica nerve, prostate glands and kidney. Avoid in cases of hernia and duodenal ulcer.
Padmasana: It can tone the coccygeal and sacral nerves as the blood flow to the legs are restricted and redirected to the abdominal region. Padmasana is considered one of the best asanas for meditation.
Anulom-Vilom- Pranayama: It produces optimum function in both sides of the brain leading to a balance between a person's creative and logical thinking. Due to its overall benefit, this pranayama is considered as fundamental pranayama.
2) Hormonal system
Ailments: Obesity and diabetes.
Asanas: Bhujangasana, Naukasana, Dhanurasana, Bharamari Pranayama and Vaman Kriya.
How it helps
Bhujangasana: This asana improves spinal flexibility and strengthens the muscles in the arms and back. It is also effective in relieving menstrual irregularities and constipation.
Dhanurasana: It gives a good stretch to the shoulders, hands, thorax, thighs and the legs. It also massages the abdomen and internal organs and improves digestion.
Naukasana: This asana stimulates the muscular, digestive, circulatory, nervous and hormonal systems, and makes you agile. It also eliminates nervous tension. Apart from that, it helps in reducing fat around the belly area.
Bhramari Pranayama: It relieves stress and cerebral tension, which in turn helps alleviate anger, anxiety and insomnia, increasing the healing capacity of the body. It strengthens and improves the voice. The vibration of the humming sound creates a soothing effect on the mind and nervous system.
Vaman Kriya: In this process, the stomach is filled with the water and then the same water is spitted out from the mouth. Hence, the stomach and the esophagus are washed and impurities are thrown out.
Ailments: Indigestion, Acidity, Constipation, Diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcers.
Asanas: Trikonasana, Viparita Karani, Pavan Muktasana, Makarasana.
How it helps
Trikonasana: This is a classic yoga position that stretches and strengthens your spine, inner thigh area, abdominal and side muscles. It also helps to open the pelvis by stretching the pelvic ligaments. It reduces stress and anxiety, and is good for digestion.
Viparita Karani: This pose aids blood circulation. If you are stressed, fatigued or jet-lagged, this pose is especially refreshing.
Pavan Muktasana: The wind relieving pose works mainly on the digestive system. It helps in eliminating excess gas in the stomach.
Makarasana: Also called the Crocodile Pose, it is a particularly effective relaxation pose, partly because diaphragmatic breathing facilitates relaxation.
4)Muscles, joints and bones
Ailments: Physical fatigue, muscle cramps, lower backache, middle backache, upper backache, cervical spondilitis, arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis.
Asanas: Setubandhasana, Ardha Halasana, Tadasan and Vakrasana.
How it helps
Setubandhasana: It stimulates the abdominal organs and opens up the chest and lungs, helping to release tightness around the muscles which aid in the ability to breathe fully and deeply. Avoid doing this pose if you have a neck or back injury.
Ardha Halasana: This strengthens the endocrine and nervous system.
Tadasan: The most important and the most basic benefit of Tadasana is that it helps improve the posture of the body.
Vakrasana: This asana strengthens the spine and activates nerves.
5) Mind and emotions
Ailments: Irritability, mental fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, drug addiction, depression, alcoholism, bulimia, anorexia.
Asanas: Naukasana, Shavasana and Kapal Bhati.
How it helps
Shavasana: The corpse pose is considered as a classic relaxation pose and is practiced before or in between asanas as well as a final relaxation.
Kapalbhati Kriya: This kriya removes all toxins from the respiratory passages and improves blood circulation and heart rate by pumping pure blood to the heart.
6) Nervous system
Asanas: Sarvangasana, Sirshasana, Kapalbhati Kriya and Sheetali.
How it helps
Sarvangasana: This pose is essentially known for its ability to regulate the working of the thyroid glands. These glands are responsible for the proper functioning of the entire body including the digestive, nervous and reproductive system, regulating metabolism and the working of the respiratory system. Apart from that, it nourishes the spine with a good supply of blood and oxygen, helping you beat nervous system disorders, and improving your all round health.
Sirshasana: It pulls the stagnant blood in the lower limbs back to the heart for purification. This asana improves the flow of blood to head too. It tones the pituitary gland which is the master gland that influences the functioning of the rest of the endocrine glands.
Sheetali: This practice cools the body and affects the important brain centres associated with biological drives and temperature regulation. It induces muscular relaxation and mental tranquillity. It gives control over hunger and thirst, and generates a feeling of satisfaction.