Anatomy of Yoga

Read the article below for a simple to understand article by Simon Borg-Olivier and Bianca Machliss written for Well Being Magazine on The Anatomy of Yoga. It explains the four main things you can do in a yoga pose around the nine main joint complexes in the body. This concept is elaborated in the YogaSynergy Text Book ‘Applied Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga’

In the ultimate sense, the goal of yoga (which means union) is the realisation that the individual consciousness is one with universal consciousness. This is a very lofty goal for most of us. A more achievable goal in the short term is to maximise communications between the brain and the body through yoga practice. To make your yoga as effective as possible, it helps to understand the anatomy of what you are trying to achieve and what yoga can do.

Brain-body communication

Good communication between your brain and body allows you to enhance health and vitality and to recover from injury more easily. The main means of communication in the body is via the circulation of energy (prana) and information (citta) through the circulatory channels of the body. Hatha yoga is the physical form of the ancient Indian science of yoga that uses physical exercises (among other things) to help achieve the union of brain and body and enhance the communication between them.

The word hatha literally means force. Hatha yoga uses physical exercises to generate forces through the body that can enhance circulation. To achieve this, it helps to have complete control of the muscles and joints. A basic, practical understanding of anatomy can enhance your yoga practice immensely. This knowledge can also be used to improve your strength, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness and ability to heal injuries and to relax and meditate.

Yoga for ‘Western’ bodies

Traditional yoga is taught with the assumption that those practising it have typically Indian bodies. Generally, in the Western world, where yoga has become very popular, this is not the case. Generally, people living in India have a natural balance between their strength and flexibility. For example, they can very easily come to the squatting position, something they have been doing since they were children. Similarly, they can readily do the lotus position because of a lifetime of sitting cross-legged on the floor rather than on chairs.

Many traditional yoga sequences place deep squats and full-lotus or half-lotus postures relatively early on in the sequence without allowing much time to warm up the hips, knees or ankles. These postures are not considered deep or difficult stretches for the typical Indian body. Yet they are often quite difficult for Western bodies.

One misconception of yoga is that it’s all about stretching and relaxation. In fact, learning how to activate (tense) muscles and strengthen the body is as important as learning how to stretch and relax muscles. To achieve the healthiest physical body and the best physical yoga, you need to have a controlled balance between strength and flexibility as well as the ability to relax.

To read the rest of this article go to the Well Being Magazine Website by clicking here.

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