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Utkatasana edit button Edit

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A.D Pradeep Kumar | calendar 29 February 2024 | 64

Yoga & You-7 Excellent fix for the abdominal walls AD Pradeep Kumar

It is said that human beings suffer in comparison with animals because of their vertical posture. Gravity pulls the heavy lower bowel in human beings down from its position and this can affect the functioning of the inner organs. Since both the digestive and eliminatory systems depends on the organs, in course of time, the distention will begin to hinder the passage of waste material from the body.

In addition, human beings, being essentially bipeds, carry their trunks as fixed cylinders on two pillars – the legs – without any support for the bowels. This also puts pressure on the abdominal wall, and prevents it from getting proper exercise. On the other hand, check out a horse or a greyhound. The alternative stretching forward of the front legs and stretching backward of the hind legs leads to tightening and relaxing of the abdominal wall, which provides those regions with sufficient exercise.

Thus, human beings require abdominal exercise to maintain the natural tone of the lower front wall of the body as well as the lower parts. Utkatasana helps in preserving the tone of the abdominal muscles and aids in better and regular movement of the bowels. It also helps strengthen the abdominal and pelvic muscles.

As a balancing measure, after the upper part of the body has received sufficient exercise through the practice of Talasana, Konasana and Chakrasana, you should now turn to the lower part of the body and work at Utkatasana.

Utkatasana is a fine yogic asana. The literal meaning of the word is “raised waist pose”. Though traditionally static and used for hygienic kriyas, the posture has been successfully divided into two or three easy movements.

Utkatasana is really a semi-standing pose done on tiptoes. The squatting version is a dynamic variation, which is less strenuous and more effective in its basic objective of exercising the muscles of the legs and the pelvic region.

Utkatasana

•	Stand erect with your feet parallel and 12 inch apart as in Talasana.
•	Keep your hands stretched out parallel to the floor.
•	Now raise yourself on your heels, and standing on your toes, inhale for three seconds.
•	Lower the body till your thighs press against the calves, while exhaling for three seconds. Hold this squatting position for six seconds, suspending your breath meanwhile.
•	Then, inhaling for three seconds, slowly rise up again on your toes, until the original standing position is reached.
•	Pause during the inspiratory standstill for six seconds.
•	Repeat the exercise about three times. 

Ensure total coordination of your body movement by fixing your eyes at a point in front of you. Concentrate on your breathing pattern and also on your body movements and the areas you feel are stretching during the exercise.

Benefits

The Utkatasana exercises the muscles of the lower extremities of the hip, knee and ankle. It also helps strengthen the abdominal and pelvic muscles. It provides coordination and helps return healthy circulation to the heart, and strengthens the joints.

In the beginning, you should perform the Utkatasana around four times. Losing one's balance while squatting, strain on the legs, etc. are likely to be felt by those who are constitutionally weak or obese initially. But this can be overcome by regular practice.

Remember, the coordination of the movements and proper synchronisation is of utmost importance. And it is not possible to achieve this without full concentration because the coordination of the body and mind is not spontaneous in any activity. It has to be acquired. But the process of acquisition of this coordination brings with it concentration and knowledge (jnana) and is a help in overcoming mental disturbances.

It is important that one practises this bhava of tranquillity and knowledge while doing the Utkatasana, and not stick to the physical manoeuvre alone. Activities that involve both the body and mind need special attention in yoga education. Regular practice of simple yogic techniques like the Talasana and Utkatasana helps you understand and strengthen the connections between your mind and body. In yoga, the activities are intrinsically and organically related to the original, but dormant, impulse of self-awareness and self-discovery.

There are a number of modern techniques developed that require coordination of the body and mind. Unfortunately, in these, the techniques become an end in themselves. Knowledge of the internal world is as important as that of the external world. Understanding your body, its intricate working, the body-mind relation, mental emotions, reactions and inclinations leads to total understanding. This will even enhance the understanding you have of the external world.

The prerequisite for such an in-depth understanding of yourself is a steady state of mind. Once you succeed in laying the fundamental tracks, you can easily move over to a state of better mental control. You will also then succeed to a certain extent in carrying over this concentration ability in your daily activities.

Limitations

Vertigo, severe arthritis

(Note: This article is based on the principles advocated by The Yoga Institute, Santacruz)