Go Deep on Yoga Poses, How They work on Locomotor System, Joints

Author: Randeep Singh / go to all articles on Yoga Concepts

Yoga is good for your health,

and it will make your body healthy

and fit naturally. It will be good for your health

and make a relaxed mind in your life.

From the daily exercise of yoga in their

daily routine, it will do wonders in your life and give you the health benefits of yoga.

It is accepted today by the various systems

of physical education that for the maintenance

of good health physical exercise is a must. We shall see presently how the yogic asanas differ from other systems in their approach to the training of the locomotor system. Principally, the postures, or Asana in Yoga are evolved on the understanding that –

A healthy man is always strong, but a strong man need not be healthy always. As such Yoga does not believe only in the superfluous enlargement of the major muscles (like all the gym fanatics believe in), but in exercising every muscle in the body with the participation of the mind so as to achieve a thorough neuromuscular coordination.

The locomotor system consists of bones, joints, and muscles. It is concerned with the movement of the joints. The gross structure of the muscle comprises of three parts, namely the origin, the fleshy portion known as belly, and the tendon. The muscle takes origin from the bone above and is inserted in the bone below the joint. The extremity of the origin is proximal where as the insertion is distal. Some muscles are mainly concerned with initiation and performing of certain movements, while others maintain the posture of the body.

Muscle, Joint, Bones of the Locomotor System

Accordingly the muscles are of various shapes and sizes. On examining the microscopic structure of a muscle, we find a number of white and red muscle fibre s. Each fibre consists of muscle cell joined end to end. The muscle cell is rectangular in shape with dark and light bands placed alternatively along its width. These give a striated appearance to the cells and are called striated muscles, one of various kinds of muscles.

Each muscle fibre is supplied with motor nerve fibre which ends in a special tissue called neuromuscular spindle. The nerve fibres originating from the anterior horn cells of the spinal cord reach a number of muscle fibres. These anterior horn cells with its muscle fibres form motor unit, and is a fundamental functional unit of a muscle.

Each muscle thus consists of a number of motor units. The number of motor units in a muscle depends on the type of the muscle movement, and not upon its bulk. A muscle performing fine and precision movements like the muscle of the eye contains a large number of motor units as compared to a a muscle performing a crude movement.

A joint is formed in between two bony surfaces. There are two types of joints, movable and fixed. The locomotor system is concerned with movable joints. Most of the movable joints have a synovial membrane, which secretes a fluid that lubricates the moving surfaces.

A bone is the hardest structure of the body. Apart from forming the joints it serves many more purposes. It gives protection to the vital structures, such as the brain, spinal cord, lungs, liver, heart etc. It gives support to the body. It serves as fixers to the muscles. It manufactures blood cells. It is a great reservoir of calcium and takes active part in calcium metabolism.

Physiology of Exercise and Asana | Yoga Poses in Depth

Yoga Poses in depth

We may now examine a few theories on physiology of exercise to evaluate the worth of asanas from modern scientific premises. It is pointed out that the main source of energy for performing work or any activity is adinosine triphosphate. During exercise this chemical breaks down to adinosine diphosphate and a molecular phosphorous. This results in the production of metabolities and a large amount of energy.

This energy is partly used in muscle work, and the rest appears as heat. Heat causes dilation of capillaries which improves the circulation through them. Metabolites are changed into less harmful substances, which are excreted by other organs. The effect of Yoga asana on muscular contraction is explained thus: “During contraction the glycogen store in the muscle is reduced and it is changed into glucose for the supply of energy.

The respiratory quotient falls indicating that the fat is utilised as predominant fuel. Muscle tone is also increased in hypotonic muscles. When there is a strong or sustained muscular contraction, the insufficiency of oxygen supply causes the accumulation of lactic acid, formed during converstion of glycogen into glucose, diffuses mainly into the blood stream.

This lactic acid in the blood is taken up by the liver and reconverted for this resynthesis. A chemical substance known as acetylcholine is produced at the neuromuscular spindle which stimulates the muscle fibre too contract. After contraction, it is destroyed by an enzyme choline esterage, and the muscle fibre is ready for a fresh impulse from the brain.

The various types of movements are represented not in the muscles but in the brain, which sends orders to the muscles concerned for a particular movement desired – in this connection, the emphasis of Yoga asanas being performed with mental participation is of great significance.

Dr. Vinekar has tried to give a scientific explanation for yogic asanas by putting forward the hypothesis of tonic and phasic reactions and how they are controlled by differing systems in the different centres in the brain. In his article he argues that in any action or reaction the brain acts as a whole; you cannot separate it in different anatomical centres when it is in action.

Both, Gene Logan in his Book ”Adaptations of Muscular Activity, ” and McKenzie in his ”Exercise and Medicine” have discussed the concept of endurance which is very important in relation to Yoga asana. It is found that in the exercises of endurance, single movements are comparatively mild. There is less tendency to shortening and stiffening of the muscle and, therefore, the development is general rather than local.

Logan describes endurance as the ”ability to sustain prolonged physical activity” which, according to him, is gained by regularly increasing effort and gradually progressing in repetitions and rate of activity. It should be noted that static postures in Yoga contribute to build up endurance without such repetitions, thereby avoiding fatigue.

Dr. Dragomir Mateyev speaks of the over-restoration – a phase of exaltation, resulting from exercise. Investigations show that the tired organs and the organism during period of rest, after exercise, are in a set of lively restorative process. This happens not only after repetitive exercises of modern types but more through static Yoga postures, static isometric exercise with a forceful contraction of muscles.

Both, Logan and McKenzie however have contradictory theories regarding the importance of edurance and strength in physical training. Logan asserts that the development of strength must precede endurance training. McKenzie on the other hand reaches a conclusion that it is through the exercises of endurance that we must look to the systematic development of strength and resistance in the heart and arteries.

He claims that the exercises of endurance improve the quality of the muscles so that they produce less waste, and thus also increase the capacity of the heart and the lungs to take care of the increased demand. According to Logan, development of endurance involves –

a) Increased oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.

b) Brining into operation of more capillaries.

c) Greater cardiac output

McKenzie has further stated that most e excises of endurance distributed the activity widely among the great fleshy groups of the thighs and legs, gradually approaching the maximum without interfering markedly with the respiratory movements.

All Yoga poses are exercise of endurance; their each movement is within one’s own power. While the muscular tension is great, the contraction and relaxation process of reciprocal innervation are c comparatively harmonious, slow and organically vital.

On analysing the effects of various yoga poses, we find that all of them have certain common concepts in view as below:

1 – On the whole, the yoga poses are simple, rhythmic, and scientifically coordinated with breathing and require no accessory in the form of mechanical apparatus.

2 – In Yoga, the physical body merely serves as an instrument of education of the mind; therefore, the nervous system assumes paramount importance. This is the basic ideal of all Yoga exercises.

3 – Mere mechanical movements of the body yield little response unless associated with correct breathing rhythm.

4 – By elimination of quick and often repeated contractions and relaxation of the muscles, the expenditure of muscular energy for any standard physiological advantage is considerably economized. This is made possible in the following ways.

  • With the mechanical aid of gravitation.
  • By the diversion of blood supply through adjustable pressure.
  • By causing variations in vasomotoricity through an enduring muscular contraction.

5 – The ideal condition of the muscular system is sought so as to enable the skeletal muscles to hold the trunk and other parts of the body in their natural position for efficient functioning which, in turn, ensures normal response from the circulatory, respiratory, nervous, digestive, and excretory systems.

6 – The spinal column is specially attended by the lateral anterior, posterior, and torsal stretches.

7 – Effort is directed towards creating pressure on the abdominal organs and subjecting them to some sort of a massage.

It may be said in the end that these observations on the anatomy and physiology of the mascular system, a few theories on the physiology of exercise and on the general estimation of yogic poses while brief is, in the main, substantive. Though some detailed theories on the effects of asanason muscular and other systems have been propounded, these have not been discussed here. The fact is that our knowledge of many interrelated matters is so limited that propounding of far-fetched hypothesis may not necessarily help in further investigations.

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