What is yoga? Understanding your anatomy

by | Dec 29, 2016 | Ashtanga Yoga, Health & Wellbeing, Wisdom

To truly appreciate the benefits of yoga classes, it helps to understand how your body is being affected by the many different asana you learn.

Here is a brief overview of the most important and influential parts of your yoga anatomy.

Muscles and bones

It probably won’t come as a surprise to many that your muscles and bones are key factors in performing yoga.

The connections between these two major pieces of your anatomy are what help keep you standing, moving and posing. Ensuring you have strong bones and flexible muscles is crucial to everyday life and to achieving your goals in yoga.

When you learn a full range of Ashtanga yoga, chances are every major muscle in your body will be utilised in a session. From your calves to your collar bone, yoga can help stretch, define and strengthen muscles.

Bones are also important as they provide the foundation through which our muscles are interconnected throughout the body. Of course, one of the best ways to protect your bones is to develop stronger muscles, increased flexibility and healthier joints, as this can help prevent injuries through wear and tear and exercise.

Movement through yoga

Movement, whether slow and controlled during yoga or experienced at the pace of a hectic life outside of yoga class, is largely driven by the muscles and joints.

Yoga is one activity that requires a lot of your joints while also providing safe and supported movement. The slow and controlled changes between Asana are typically designed to ensure joints are not strained or bent unnaturally.

However, most beginners have likely experienced one or two poses that put them outside of their comfort zone. Knowing what your joints can handle is crucial for alleviating nervousness, and pushing yourself to conquer even the most challenging poses.

Of course, this depends on your strength, flexibility and knowledge of yoga. Typically, you can push your larger joints through a bit of discomfort, such as the ball and socket of your hips, but it pays to listen to your body. If you feel pain, take things slowly and get advice on ways to ease into the more difficult asana.

The backbone

As your pillar of strength, the spine is crucial for all aspects of life – and this is no different in yoga.

It is important to take care of your spine in all things. Bending, stretching and twisting will all feature in a yoga class, and when done correctly can help develop strength and flexibilities throughout your core.

If you’re serious about yoga, take some time to become familiar with the discs, bones and muscles that make up your spine. Knowing at which point your back pivots into certain movements will help you anticipate your body’s limits- making yoga and all other exercise even safer.

Yoga and your organs

While much of the science is not exact, there is plenty of evidence that a healthy approach to yoga and life can provide significant benefits to your organs. From decreasing toxins to eliminating stress, everything from your stomach to your mind can be improved by taking regular yoga classes.


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