The Yoga Spine – Brahma Danda

In yoga the spinal column is referred to as brahma danda (the yoga spine), which literally means ‘the walking stick of God’.  …


This should give us an indication of the importance that the ancients attributed to this region of the body. Modern osteopathy and chiropractic both accredit the health of the spine as one of the dominant factors for overall health — and rightly so.

Spinal health is of paramount importance in yoga. The spine is seen as a vehicle through which the power of the universe may manifest in the human form. As well, it is through sushumna nadi, the central channel within the spinal column, that the mysterious and powerful kundalini force raises from its dormant state at the base of the spine to the brahmarandhra (the psychic aperture at the crown of the head).

It is the vertical nature of the human spine which aligns the mechanism of our central nervous system with the vertical energy flows of the universe, which the yogis believe is what gives superior intelligence to the human beings.

Thus, in meditation it is of the utmost importance that one’s spine be vertical and straight. That vertical, straight and flexible spine is called a ‘yoga spine’. As we have touched upon in an earlier lesson, it was precisely to enable the yogi to sit comfortably with a tall and straight spine that the asanas were primarily concerned with. Even so today, the recurring theme throughout much of our hatha yoga practice revolves around the health, strength and flexibility of the spine. One cannot have good health without a healthy yoga spine.

The Master Structure

The human skeleton is an arrangement of over 200 bones of masterful evolutionary design. This framework provides support and protection for the delicate internal organ systems and a strong and stable hinge and pivot structure for movement via the muscular attachments. It is also a huge depository of minerals needed by the body, as well as the factory for the production of red blood cells.

There are several different types of bones, each serving a specific mechanical function. For instance, the flat, circular bones of the spinal column stack one on top of the other and protect the delicate spinal chord which passes through their central canal.

This ingenious design also provides for a unique range of movements, support for the entire upper torso, as well as absorption of vertical force (generated while walking, jumping, etc) via the three major curves within its overall structure. Still other bones are designed for leverage and movement such as the long bones of the legs and arms.

The flat bones of the skull provide armor to encase the delicate brain tissue; the intricate bony structures of the inner ear serve to harvest the resonance of sound waves passing through the air; and the complex of the 26 bones of the hand combine to provide an array of motor skills unparalleled within the animal kingdom, just to name a few.

These bones are living tissue, comprised of solid protein cells and complex mixtures of various minerals, namely calcium and phosphorus. As such, they are as much affected by any activities, such as diet or exercise, which would otherwise affect the health of any other aspect of our being. When problems assail the bones, it can become a troublesome situation. Not only do chronic skeletal pathologies invariably lead to other problems of health, but the bone and joint problems themselves can be painful, debilitating and difficult to overcome.

Various forms of osteoarthritis, osteomyelitis and spondylitis are becoming commonplace in the sedentary modern world. Together with osteoporosis and bone cancer, these rank among the most painful and debilitating of all diseases.

All of these things add up to one simple truth. We all need to strive for a yoga spine.

Yoga and Spinal Health

Though yoga is an effective therapy for these and many related conditions, treatment can be slow and requires a great deal of diligence and effort. As most of these conditions have accumulated over a lifetime, they indeed cannot be remedied overnight.

Needless to say, skeletal health, namely spinal health, is at the forefront of overall health and wellness. Sedentary lifestyles, coupled with poor posture and lack of regular exercise and movement, means that the average person today has a terribly inflexible spine.

The regular practice of the yogic regimen of exercises is a perfect conditioner of the spine and an ideal preventative medicine …

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This page is an exerpt from one of the 21 lessons of The Basic Yoga Trainer eCourse at To view the rest of this lesson, you must enrol here .

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