Yoga to cleanse

The Asian Age.  | Manek S Kohli

When the weather gets smoggy, it takes a toll on your heart and lungs. to counter that, give these reliable asanas a go.

Setubandhasana (bridge pose)

Festivals are all fine and dandy, but what about the high levels of pollution that hit Indian metropolises around this time? Almost every night presents an occasion to celebrate, but you might as well be walking into a gas chamber. In these months, it becomes all the more important to take care of your lungs and heart. And, what better than to place your trust in these five incredible yoga asanas (postures) that are meant to keep you healthy when the environment around you isn’t particularly so.

Acharya Bhaskar Atwal dons plenty of hats — yoga practitioner, acupressure consultant, hypnotherapist, reiki healer and vedic mantra healer — and he absolutely swears by these asanas. He comments, “Overall, these are good for the spinal cord, lungs, and they in improving blood flow to the brain. Anything that strengthens the nervous system will help remedy asthma, allergies, high blood pressure, and even anxiety, depression and constipation."

Setubandhasana (bridge pose)
Benefits: Setubandhasana happens
to have a host of benefits. Those who have had a spine operation should do it, while others can simply use it to strengthen their spinal cord. If you are suffering from injuries, allergies or bronchitis, this is the asana for you. It is also good for women during pregnancy, as it increases chances of a normal
Technique: Lie flat on your back, then bend your knees and place your feet on the floor (wide apart). Inhale and lift your back off the floor, and touch your chin to your chest. Use your hands to lift your torso even higher. Remain this way for at least a minute and then relax.
When to avoid: If you have back problems.

Dhanurasana (bow pose)
Benefits: Strengthens many parts of the body — all the way from the thighs to the ankle — but it especially helps with the shoulders. Chest, lungs and neck are benefited, helping those with asthma, and it helps reduce inches from the stomach too.

Technique: Lie on your stomach and then bend your knees upwards. Then, hold your ankles and pull them closer to your hips, while pushing your chest and thighs off the floor. Stay in this position for a few seconds, and then exhale and return to the floor.
When to avoid: If you have a back injury.

Markatasana (Monkey pose)
Benefits: This asana is incredibly helpful for those suffering from a slip disc, and pain in the knees, calf muscles, and thighs. The intestines, spine, and the digestive system are also helped considerably by this posture.

Technique: Lie down on your back and spread your arms perpendicular to your body. Then, while inhaling, fold your right leg, turn it to the left, and turn your neck to the right. Exhale and assume the starting position, before repeating the stance on the opposite side.
When to avoid: Unless you have some major body injury, this posture is safe for all.

Ushtrasana (Camel pose)
Benefits: Another great asana for strengthening the spinal cord. It also benefits the metabolism and helps the intestines and liver. It also improves breathing as the chest is opened up, which is great for asthmatics.

Technique: Sit in a kneeling position and then, slowly, lean backwards and take your arms behind. Then, touch your palms to the ground. Keep your arms straight and eyes open.
When to avoid: If you have a cervical problem, unless there an expert is supervising you.