This asana opens up the chest area to the maximum. When done with deep breathing in the final position, it fills the lungs with a full gush of oxygen and expels carbon dioxide, says yoga expert Kamini Bobde

yogaThis asana opens up the chest area to the maximum (Source: Pexels)

The word yoga means union. Everything in the world is interconnected. This is manifest wonderfully in the working of our bodily systems. Any problem in any part affects the working of the whole system, even if the symptoms manifest in one part. Yoga recognises this and a keen yoga teacher knows how to use the asanas and pranayama to orchestrate the whole system back into harmonious functioning. Your whole practice is linked with breathing. Every asana is performed with synchronised breathing. After all, oxygen is what fuels us.

There was a young boy of about 12 years who was weak, introvert, anaemic and was struggling to cope with his studies. Because of his general weakness, he was unable to robustly handle his classmates or develop friendships. His perplexed mother approached me if yoga could help him in gaining physical, emotional and mental strength.

When she got him for class, my attention was drawn to his slightly hunched, rounded shoulders and nervous shyness. His whole posture betrayed a closed-in personality with a posture which was also closed. A bit of chatting showed that his breathing was rapid and shallow due to his posture and his disturbed mental, emotional state. One can say it was a vicious cycle of body, mind and emotions, all impacting each other and depriving him of the vigour that was natural for his age.

It was obvious that most of his physical, mental and emotional problems were due to poor respiration and his lungs working partially. The reduced O2 levels resulted in poor functioning of all his bodily systems, impacting the growth of muscles, bones, causing low haemoglobin, poor supply of oxygen-rich blood to his brain and poor mental output. A low immunity got him down with frequent fevers, cough and cold, which made him feel like a loser. To be happy and joyful with energy, you fundamentally need your heart and lungs working to an optimal level. This is what was addressed in his yoga session. In about 15 days, his pallid face got some colour back.

In a month’s time, his weight had gone up by 2 kg and all his other parameters, like wanting to go out to play, enjoying school, his learning output, started to show a positive turnaround as the life force. His breathing became better while the asana postures helped in activating his digestive and immune systems. He fell ill much less.

His practice included asanas like Shashankasana, Simhagarjanasana, Vipareetkarni asana, Dhanursana, Suryanamaskar and Kapalbhati, Nadishodhana pranayama and on and off yogic breathing. But, one asana which one can say was instrumental in correcting his condition was Ushtrasana with deep breathing.


This asana opens up the chest area to the maximum. When done with deep breathing in the final position, it fills the lungs with a full gush of oxygen and expels carbon dioxide. It corrects rounded shoulders and hunched back postural issues. Besides improving the respiration, this posture, done with deep breathing, massages the stomach, liver and intestines, stretches the thyroid glands, loosens the vertebrae and stimulates the spinal nerves. All this with an improved respiratory system works overall on your body. All backward bending asanas also open up the general persona of the person.


· Sit in Vajrasana.

· Raise your body on your knees with arms by the side of your body. Keep knees a little apart.

· As you inhale, lean back, moving your left hand towards the left heel until it is resting on it.

· Simultaneously, raise your right hand straight in front and slowly take it at the back as far as it can go, thus executing a full backward bend with the head also thrown at the back, and touching the right heel.

· In this position, do three rounds of deep breathing in and out.

· Then, as you exhale slowly, bring your right hand forward by the side of your body.

· Simultaneously, bring your left hand also by the side of your body.

· Repeat the same, this time joining the right hand to the right heel first.

· This makes one set.

· Initially, do three rounds and then build it up to five rounds.

This boy went through personality transformation through yoga because this practice connects all the disparate functions of the body to work as a unified whole. The body then helps transform the mental and emotional state of the person, thus achieving a holistic benefit to the practitioner.

(Kamini Bobde is a Kundalini practitioner who follows the Swami Satyananda Saraswati tradition of yoga. She is the author of Kundalini Yoga for All: Unlock the Power of Your Body and Brain. Published by Penguin)

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First published on: 22-07-2023 at 12:30 IST

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