Archive | Sanskrit Roots

Your Back – the Upper West Side of the Body

Before Olmstead ever laid out Central Park and created an East Side and a West Side in Manhattan, an east side and west side divided the human body. The east side in yoga is the entire front of the body. The west side is the entire back of the body. These designations presume that you meet the rising sun and face east. The sun sets in the west, on your back.

In yoga, you always look forward to the new day.

Note that even the word “back” is a flexible word. In English the word “back” can act as a –

Noun: backbone; turn your back; on your back; back of the crowd
Verb: Back up; back your allegation; backed by supporters
Adjective: back draft; back pack; fullback
Adverb: stay back; roll back; sit back

Just as in language, the back of the body is often taken for granted though it’s very versatile.
Also never really seen, the back is essential. The central nervous system is central to all the systems of the body. The spinal cord carries messages through out the body and is protected by the vertebrae of the back. Further, the back comprises the largest and most dense area of muscle in the body. A healthy back is a vital part of vitality and yoga increases muscular strength and flexibility of your upper west side.

Seated forward bend is a basic pose in yoga. Health clubs commonly use this posture to evaluate flexibility. In yoga, seated forward bend is called Paschimottanasana, which translates as intense west side stretch pose:

paschima = west;

ottana (uttana) = intense stretch;

asana = pose

Properly done, the entire west side of the body is intensely stretched. Popular activities such as running and lifting weights make us strong but often at the expense of a flexible posterior. Yoga complements and balances the results of these actions.

In sports the fullback is a defensive player. Taking care of your back with yoga is an affirmative defense against illness. A strong and flexible back

  • Ensures the health of your vertebrae,
  • Protects your spinal cord, and
  • Lubricates your central nervous system for the smooth running of your entire body.