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Spinal structure and Asana practice

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

Have you ever thought about why most of the asana instructions are related to the spine?

Most of the Yoga Teachers while instructing the students about proper alignments of asanas speak about how to keep the spine.

Be it getting into the final position or coming out from the asana and not to say about being in the final position. It is always about the spinal structure held properly.

When the teacher speaks about folding forward, it is to keep the spine erect and creating movement from the base of the spine.

When it is the backbend, how to use the core muscles engaged, keeping the spine properly, and getting into the position. It is always about the spine being in the proper position.

Spinal structure and asana practice


The spinal cord is termed as Merudanda. It is the individual’s axis to the universe. Meru literally means peak/mountain and Danda is the stick. It is the stable, mountain-like stick that related you to the cosmos.

“Sthiram & Sukham” qualities of Spine

Take a look at the spine and notice how in stacking the vertebrae from bottom to top. The vertebrae become progressively smaller as you observe upward.

Much like a pyramid, the spine has a wide base and a narrow top, giving the structure inherent stability, Sthirata.

yoga anatomy

Ida, Pingala & Sushumna

The intervertebral foramen that you see on both sides allowing the spinal nerves to function can be understood as the places of Ida and Pinagal Nadis.

These two are also the symbols of two dimensions of life at large. They are called Shiva-Shakti, Left-Right brains, Yin-Yang etc.

These two, in general, are the expression of duality in the mystical/spiritual perspectives.

The balance of Ida & Pingala brings happiness, success, and progress in life outwards.

The asana practice primarily makes you aware of the system and starts bringing the balance between these two.

As awareness increases, the balance between the two dimensions of life increases.

The path of material success is also termed as “Preyo Marga” and the one finding the balance is called Maneeshi by the Vedas. – Hruda Pashyanti Manasaa Manishinah (Manishinah are those who can experience the balance between the mind and intellect).

Let’s discuss in detail these two Nadis in the next article.

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