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Yogic Postures & Skeletal Muscles Article – 1

ashtanga-yoga Yogic Posture is defined as arrangement of body parts with understanding and awareness.

Ashtang Yoga explained by Mahamuni Patanjali elaborates Yogic Postures in 3 Sutras. Ashtang Yoga is dedicated to study of mind & its discipline.

Hathyoga elaborates various types of Yogic Postures in detail. Hathyoga mainly concentrates on purification and strengthening of body.

In the journey of study of science of Yoga, we begin with study of various Yogic Postures.

Yogic Postures involve most of the joints of our body.

Yogic Postures are divided according to body position.
  • Standing
  • Sitting
  • Prone
  • Supine
  • Twisting
They involve many muscles acting on joints.

These muscles are called skeletal muscles, as they are attached to skeleton.

Skeletal muscles are under voluntary control. So we can arrange our body in different positions to work on our muscles and joints.

The effects of practice of Yogic Postures on our skeletal muscles is a follows –

Strength

Strength of the muscle increases, when muscle contracts (works) with weight. This is called weight training. Yogic Postures utilize body’s weight to be balanced against gravity.

Postures are designed to balance weight of body by palms, forearms, arms, torso muscles respectively in Suryanamaskar, elbow balance, Urdhwamukhshwanasan, etc.

Similarly postures are designed to strengthen extensors of spine and front torso muscles in prone and supine Naukasan respectively.

Strength of the muscle increases due to increase in the size of muscle fibre & not the number. This is due to increase in contractile filaments namely Actin & myosin.

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Endurance

Endurance is the ability of muscle to work for long time.

While performing Yogic Postures, we have to hold the postures for certain time, by counting numbers. Slowly the duration can be increased.

The selective postures mentioned above can be used for this purpose.

Endurance of skeletal muscles is due to –

  • Amount of enzymes required during mitochondrial aerobic oxidation of glucose.
  • For muscle to work for long time, these enzymes are produced more.
  • Increased capacity of muscles to extract oxygen i.e. Vo2 max. This is due to more aerobic enzymes plus improved vascularity to muscles.
  • Increased glycogen content of muscle aids in glucose supply for energy.
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Optimal Length

muscle has maximum strength when its’ length is optimum.

Yogic Postures are designed to stretch selective muscles in the body, which show adaptive shortening e.g.

  • Hamstring & calf muscles in Adhomukhshwanasan.
  • Rectus femoris are in Veerbhadrasan.
This also offers freedom to concerned joints.

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Conscious Relaxation

Every skeletal muscle is in resting state of contraction called Tone.

Tone of muscle is controlled by local muscle receptor called muscle spindle & higher center in cerebral cortex.

High level of cerebral Activity (During stress) keeps muscles in a state of excessive contraction. This leads to fatigue & compressive effects on concerned joints.

Shavasan is a selective Yogic Posture, in which we consciously give instructions to muscles for relaxation.

If we can relax our muscles by practice, signals reaching to higher centers is reduced, which will reduce cerebral activity.

Conscious relaxation helps to optimize cerebral activity by biofeedback loop.


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