By Dr. Rita Khanna
You are as young or healthy as your spine. ‘Keep the spine erect,’ you will often hear the teacher calling the instruction in a class of Yogasanas. In the entire animal kingdom, the human being has the most erect spine. Let us see the implications of this instruction. In Kundalini Yoga, it has a significance of its own, as far as the Nadis and Chakras are concerned; but in this article, we shall consider only from the anatomical point of view.
Upon entering the world, a newborn baby’s spine is flexed (bent forward) at the beginning. Later, when the infant turns on its tummy, and starts to raise its head, it develops the first backward curve of the spine, in the cervical (neck) region. Still later, when the young child first stands on its own feet in the erect position, it develops another backward curve in the lumbar (lower) region. These curves will continue to develop until growing continues.
BACKWARD LUMBAR CURVATURE OF THE SPINE
While standing in the erect position, the lumbar spine has to bear the weight of the upper half of the body. Due to this, and also due to strides of the legs in erect walking, the spine develops this backward curvature which pre-disposes man alone, amongst all the animals, to a new range of evolutionary spinal diseases, including low back pain, slipped disc, sciatica, scoliosis, and spondylitis.
In addition, various disturbances of digestion, menstruation, and reproduction arise, due to congestion and irritation of emerging spinal nerves in the lumbar region. Another disadvantage of the erect posture is the increased likelihood of developing piles (hemorrhoids) and varicose veins, because the column of venous blood from the legs and rectum, has to travel so much further upwards against gravity to reach the heart.
THE STRUCTURE OF INDIVIDUAL VERTEBRA
• The spine is like the trunk of a tree, supporting the entire body structure. Atop this trunk, sits the bony, enclosed cranium or box of the skull, containing the most important of all human organs – the brain – which not only controls the human body, but gives a real purpose to its existence.
• The top-most vertebra is called the atlas, because it supports the round head like the Greek mythical figure Atlas, who s