Understanding the Merudandasana or the Spinal Column Pose!

Merudandasana gets its name from Sanskrit where "Meru" means "Mountain" or "Peak", "Danda" means "Stick" or "Pole." Merudanda here means Spinal Column and "Asana" means "Pose" or "Posture." It is called Merudandasana because in ancient times people used to compare the spinal column to a stick with a series of peaks.

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Merudandasana is also called The Spinal Column Pose since the entire focus of this yogasanas is on the spinal column.

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Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose tones the abdominal organs, stimulates the abdominal organs especially the liver, and also strengthens the abdominal muscles. It helps to stimulate intestinal peristalsis and helps in getting rid of constipation.

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Merudandasana also tones the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and thus helps in strengthening the muscles of the back and then does its prime function of realigning the spine.

It is considered best when The Spinal Column Pose is practiced early in the morning or Brahma Muhurta. However, if because of some reason, you are not able to practice it in the morning, you can practice Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose in the evening as well. Mornings are preferred as the food is digested and your body has the energy to perform the asanas. But make sure that when you are practicing Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose in the evening, you should have your food 5 to 6 hours before you practice as your food takes this much time to digest.

How to Do Merudandasana or the Spinal Column Pose?

To practice Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose, you should get into Baddha Konasana first.

Baddha Konasana or the Butterfly Pose

  • To practice Baddha Konasana, sit with your legs straight and outstretched on the floor or on the Yoga Mat.
  • While exhaling, fold your knees in such a way that your heels come near the pelvic area.
  • Join both the heels together and bring them as close to the pelvis as possible.
  • Hold your toes with both the hands or clasp both the hands to the respective ankle if you are unable to hold your toes while practicing Baddha Konasana or The Butterfly Pose.
  • Drop your knees towards the floor and push both your feet together.
  • Lengthen your spine from the front of the torso to the sternum in such a way that you are pulling your body down towards the floor.
  • The aim of this asana is to touch the knees to the floor or the yoga mat and to bring the head in front of your feet while having your torso flat over the legs.
  • Do not force your knees to touch the floor or your head to bend forward completely on the ground. Release the thighbones towards the floor. When you do this the knees will follow.
  • Gaze at a point forward or on your nose.
  • Stay for 1 to 5 minutes or 15 to 20 breaths in Baddha Konasana or The Butterfly Pose.
  • Maintain a constant breath while practicing it.

Steps to Do Merudandasana or the Spinal Column Pose

  • To practice Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose, get into Baddha Konasana on the floor or on The Yoga Mat.
  • Take fingers of both hands and hold the big thumb of your feet with the respective fingers of your hands to practice Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose.
  • Slowly lean backward and balance your body while getting into Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose.
  • Try to lift your legs and straighten them slowly and carefully.
  • Inhale deeply and raise your legs while practicing Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose
  • Make sure that you keep your spine straight while practicing it.
  • Try to stretch the legs as wide as possible while practicing Merudandasana.
  • In the final and ideal position, the legs and arms will be straight and away from each other.
  • Maintain the breath in the final Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose
  • Hold this position for 15 to 20 breaths or for as long as you can while breathing slowly.
  • To release the pose, gradually bring your legs back on the floor and bring you hands to rest on the sides of your thighs.
  • This completes one round of Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose.
  • Catch your breath for a few seconds and practice Merudandasana again.
  • You should practice 3-4 rounds of The Spinal Column Pose.

Breathing Pattern to Be Followed While Practicing Merudandasana or the Spinal Column Pose

  • Inhale deeply while raising your legs from the floor.
  • Exhale once you reach the final pose and your arms and legs are stretched as much as they can while in Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose
  • Retain your breath while holding the final Spinal Column Pose.
  • Exhale deeply after relieving the pose.

Preparatory and Follow Up Poses for Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose

  • Preparatory Poses. The various Preparatory poses for Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose are Baddha Konasana or The Butterfly Pose and Uttanasana or The Standing Forward Bend Pose and Paschimottanasana.
  • Follow Up Poses. The various Follow-Up poses for Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose are Halasana or The Plow pose and Hanumanasana or The Full Split.

Benefits of Practicing Merudandasana or the Spinal Column Pose

  • Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose stretches the calves, hamstrings, hips thighs and the groin thereby strengthening the pelvic area.
  • It increases the strength of the knees by the stretch they get while in the final position.
  • Merudandasana strengthens the abdominal muscles and massages the intestines and internal organs of the digestive system and thereby improves digestion.
  • The Spinal Column Pose is also very helpful for females who are menstruating as this helps in relieving the discomfort.
  • Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose helps in the stimulation of the prostate gland and helps in treating ailments of the Prostrate.
  • It is very helpful for people suffering from minor back ailments as this asana helps in relieving the pain.
  • Merudandasana also help in reducing ailments of the respiratory system as it helps in increasing the lung capacity of your body when it is practiced with proper breathing techniques.
  • Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose is a full body energizer and is beneficial in revitalizing and improving your concentration.
  • Some of the other benefits of this yoga pose is that it helps in balancing the mind, increases the power of concentration, and induces physical and mental relaxation quickly. The thinking process becomes very clear and precise with regular practice of Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose.
  • It also helps in getting rid of stress and mild depression.
  • It also helps in getting rid of Constipation with regular practice.
  • Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose is also very helpful for people suffering from Diabetes.

Precautions and Contraindications While Practicing Merudandasana or the Spinal Column Pose

  • People with injured or weak knees should not practice Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose as a lot of stress is put on the knees.
  • You should also avoid practicing Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose if you have an injury to the ankle.
  • People with very tight hamstrings should practice Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose with extreme caution as it can cause strain and pain when stretched excessively.
  • Get out of the Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose or release the pose if you feel a sudden sharp and shooting pain in your legs.
  • If you have any doubts about your condition, consult a physician before practicing Supta Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose and always practice asana under the supervision of a trained yoga expert.
  • Do not over exert yourself while practicing Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose. Do not push yourself beyond the limits. Go only as far as your body allows.
  • You should also not perform Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose if you have any serious and chronic spinal problems like lumbar spondylitis.
  • You should not practice it if you are suffering from diarrhea or if you have had any recent episodes of diarrhea.
  • Pregnant women should not practice Merudandasana.
  • People suffering from peptic ulcer, hernia, intestinal tuberculosis and other such conditions are also advised not to practice The Spinal Column Pose
  • High blood pressure patients should not practice Merudandasana.
  • People with chronic heart conditions should also not practice Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose.
  • People suffering from cerebral thrombosis should also not practice Merudandasana.

Tips While Practicing Merudandasana or the Spinal Column Pose

  • Try to balance your body by leaning a little backwards while holding your big thumbs with the fingers of your hands when you raise your legs off the floor while practicing Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose.
  • Beginners or those with limited flexibility on their leg muscles can keep their knees bent slightly or sit on a folded blanket while practicing Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose.
  • Perform Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose with utmost care if your spine is not sufficiently flexible.
  • You can also use a yoga strap and place it on the hells of both feet and hold the other end with your hands and try to stretch the leg muscles while holding your legs off the floor.
  • Beginners can practice Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose with one leg at a tome initially and you will get into the final pose with conscious, consistent and constant practice.
  • To deepen the pose, you can practice Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose by holding opposite leg and arm one at a time. This will maximize the stretch in both legs and arms
  • Stay in the final Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose for as long as you can because your body will benefit more as the holding capacity of your body will increase.
  • You will start feeling that you have to put efforts while holding the pose for 20 seconds; you can increase the holding capacity with constant practice.
  • It is important that your stomach is empty and bowels are clean when you practice. It is important that your stomach is empty and bowels are clean when you practice
  • The Spinal Column Pose. And always keep a gap at least four to six hours between your yogasanas practice and meal.
  • You can also try doing Merudandasana or The Spinal Column Pose by keeping you back against a wall initially.
Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 12, 2017

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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