The Anatomy of Yoga Poses

the anatomy of yoga posesAs you go through yoga teacher training you are going to learn about how yoga connects with anatomy. Your students are going to expect you to be able to individualize the instructions directed at them and help them modify yoga poses for their bodies, and steer clear of any injuries caused by poor alignment. How can you do this if you do not understand basic knowledge of human anatomy?

The idea behind practicing asana is one that is explored in detail. There are different methods for practicing the asana and some consider it to be a type of excise and some believe that sweating is an important piece of the practice. These types of practices are known as power yoga or hot yoga. Practicing these positions should fall back on the importance of the effects that each pose has on the body. Yoga teacher training will teach you what each pose the area of the body will be focused on.

Poses & the Anatomical Effects

Transitioning in and out of the positions

While practicing the positions in yoga you should always listen to your body. The pose can be modified if you ever feel pain during a stretch or pose. The pain is a sign that you are doing something wrong. The pain can cause you a state of anxiety and that can lead to an injury at a physical level. Always being aware of your body is very important in yoga practice. Yoga practice should be relaxing and it cannot be achieved through jerking and pushing your body into these positions. Make sure your poses and transitions are smooth and graceful movements.

Agonist & Antagonistic Muscles

Your coordination and cooperation of these muscles is very important. The agonist muscles in your body are the primary movers of your joints and the synergistic muscles help those. The antagonistic muscles monitor and help in making your movements smooth and controlled. This will help to maintain and hold the joint surface in a position. Your body will use the antagonistic muscles to align your joints. If the movement is smooth and slow the alignment of your joints will be maintained and injuries can be avoided.

Concentric shortening and eccentric lengthening

As your muscles contract all the muscle fibers are contracting at the same time and this is referred to as concentric shortening of the muscle which is necessary to carry out any movement. When your muscles relax all the muscle fiber will not relax at the same time but some fiber relaxes and the others still stay contracted. You will always have some muscle fibers that will resist the process of relaxation. This is important to know so that you can prevent the fast relaxation of the muscle and prevent the jerking during relaxation will help prevent injury. This process is referred to eccentric lengthening of the muscle which is important during the release of any yoga asana.

Myotatic Stretch Reflex

This is a reflex that happens through the body. The stimulus for this type of reflex is a dynamic shock. Your receptors are present in your muscle spindle and they are stimulated which sends the impulse through the motor neurons. As the neurons are stimulated over and over the effect is shortening of the muscle fibers. It will reduce the flexibility but will help in increasing the strength of the muscle. This is essential for any dynamic sports and in most athletes where the movement is always fast and jerky.  During yoga teaching this reflex is minimized since the objective is flexibility. Your movements are slow and there should not be any dynamic movements as the flexibility will be reduced. Fast jerky movements are not expected during yoga practice as the reflex will be stimulated and your muscle will be shortened which then your flexibility would be less. The chance of injury increases because of the shortening of muscle fiber.

Clasp Knife Reflex

This is a stretch reflex and it works like the closing of a pocket knife. As you close the knife there is a small resistance until the resistance is lost and the knife closes with a snap. This same thing applies to your muscles. There is an initial resistance and there is relaxation of the muscle fiber.  This causes the muscle to relax and increase flexibility. The cause of this is a pull on the muscle tendon. The receptors are found at specific points of the muscle and tendon. It will stimulate the motor neurons and prevent the contraction of the muscle which helps with relaxation. During yoga this reflex is stimulated as you maintain the position for a long period of time.

Yoga teacher training makes it very clear which asana will target what area of your body. Remember to listen to your body and not push through pain acknowledges it and modify what you are doing. Movements should be slow and positions need to be maintained.


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