Yoga anatomy differs from medical anatomy. It is necessary to learn and know certain concepts and terminology. However, the approach of education is focused not only on rote but on understanding. It helps you understand how your body works and acts.
Yoga anatomy is the skeletal system variation of the anatomy we know. Taking into account these differences, the differences in bone structures will investigate whether the postures in the formed joints are suitable for which body type. It examines the movements of our body in 12 joint areas and the positions they take during yoga postures. In particular, yoga instructors investigate the difference between tension and compression (pressure) that they understand in which postures it is necessary to force the person, and in which postures the person should not be forced. Recently orthopedists state that there is a large increase in the number of patients who are injured in yoga postures with misleading.
The Role of Anatomy in Yoga
The anatomy presented to us by Hatha Yoga, which aims to integrate through body, mind and breathing exercises, is not only limited to the physical body. I suggest you take a look at the anatomy of Hatha Yoga if you ask what happens while doing yoga, from habits to beliefs, from daily relationships to our taste. Just like in Chinese medicine, in Hatha Yoga, the body spreads to a larger area than the physical body perceived by the five sense organs. The body, yes, is equipped with internal organs, nervous, respiratory, circulatory, digestive system and five sensory organs, but there is another very important part that connects this structure and separates the dead body from its living.
This life energy (spirit) assumed that it fills the body with the first breath and exits from the body with the last breath takes the name Prana in Hatha Yoga and is written with a capital letter, such as a private name, even if it is used in the middle of the sentence to avoid confusion with the other (small) prana. We take prana from breath and nutrients. Some Hatha Yoga traditions suggest that Prana was also influenced by the data that filled our minds. Everything we listen to and watch and all the information we pass through the filter of our brain also shapes the texture of Prana. Poor quality data (those who fill our brains in front of a computer or television), just like poor quality food or air negatively affect both the structure and flow of our lives.
So this Prana is described as something flowing in the anatomy of Hatha Yoga. If you start to poke the lines of the texts and ask questions that harass the teachers such as “so prana is something like water?” you will learn that Prana is defined as a wind rather than water. Just like Ayurveda, Hatha Yoga is a discipline derived from Samkhya philosophy, so it often refers to elements of Samkhya to describe the body and its parts. The five elements of Samkhya, earth (Kşiti or Bhūmi), water (Ap or Jala), fire (Tejas or Agni), air (Marut or Pavan) and space (Vyom or Şunya or Akaş) determine the nature of the different points of the body.
In Hatha Yoga, Prana, ie spirit, is described as a function of the air element. Prana is likened to the wind because the air is more mobile than the water. Yoga teachers’ use of the term “inner breath” for Prana comes from this aerial feature of it. Prana works in canals called a soul or inner breath. We can think of the people as a very advanced and very thin nervous system. They create a tremendous network of communication that reaches every point of the body, the cell, the cell nucleus. Fortunately, only thirteen of them are important for us yoga students, according to some H.Y texts. Of these thirteen, three are essential. Realizing these three in the early years gives us ample opportunity to feel the anatomy of Hatha Yoga.
The three major canals are as follows: the solar canal Pingala starts from the right nostril and descends to the central Kanda along the right side of the spinal column, the lunar canal Ida starts from the left nostril and descends to the central canal along the left side of the spine, and Sushumna starts between two eyebrows and descends to central Kanda and is assumed to pass right through the middle of the spine (and even the spinal cord). Sushumna is a closed channel in humans, and what keeps us alive is the regularity of Prana’s flow in Ida and Pingala, which works in cooperation with the outer breath.
In the Hatha Yoga system, physical, emotional and mental health is linked to the uniform flow of Prana within the rarities. If Prana is clogged somewhere, it is buried in the darkness, like a remote village, whose communication has been cut off because of an avalanche, and eventually, if the roads are not opened, he is sentenced to death. There may be physical problems such as posture and nutritional disorders that block the flow of Prana in the canal, as well as mental/emotional states such as obsession, hatred, hatred, stubbornness, and pessimism.
When we practice Hatha Yoga, the flow of Prana in the canals begins to be regulated. Although it may take a few months to feel the effect of this on the internal organs and muscles, Prana’s impact on the mind can be felt by many students at the end of their first yoga classes, or in a pose, they sit comfortably. Calmness, clarity, lightness, and even a sense of freedom are the main secret behind the student’s one-time wear of the studio door once and then once more in the mind (the place of the mind is described as the heart zone in Hatha Yoga)!
While Prana is blowing freely in the canal, we suddenly find a sweet peace and perhaps a cure for our troubles that we have not been able to solve. There are the subtleties of Prana’s blowing in the canal, so let’s write these down later. Remember what you learned in yoga lessons because when the Hatha Yoga technique opens one layer like stacking dolls, it is an information world that makes us wonder the other layer, thus dragging us deeper. Although it is very technical, it also bears the mystery of life, human and being.
Asanas: The Yoga Positions
We perform tens of asanas in a yoga class. The main purpose of asanas is to take care of ourselves. Each asana is a small chamber designed for us to focus on ourselves. Asana warns us using our bodies. Because the physical body is the most effective tool for this. When you have a very difficult pose with your arm or leg somewhere, you do something much more difficult compared to do when you sit; you can look at what is happening in your body. Somewhere such a muscle is flexing that you have to maintain your domination at the posture, both to feel that stretching and to keep it healthy.
Domination is not established without knowing. You have to understand what is going on to dominate and you have to take care of yourself. Yoga starts here. Asana warns you. Otherwise, you may not be able to bring the mind’s attention to your body or to yourself, but asana accomplishes this. This success is yours because it is up to you to perform that asana. You already had the will to look at yourself and turn in, and now the mind has become a partner of this will. Here you have both calmed the mind and tamed it.
Yoga is a self-study, perhaps the longest path of the person who moves on the path of yoga. The section devoted to asanas in yoga classes is a rehearsal of this path. Calming the mind is the result of working on the essence. But the busiest part of our business starts right here. This is the phase of working on the essence that goes deeper, focuses more intensely, and seeks analysis and research, and wants continuity. The inward return experience, intensified by the stimulation of asanas, is repeated in each asana throughout the lesson. While we think that we are doing a physical study, we look at ourselves from a different angle throughout the lesson, we turn inside, we connect with ourselves in a different way. This creates a physical improvement as well as other improvements beyond the physical world. Looking at yourself, connecting with ourselves is always healing, changing and transforming. This is the remedy.
Body, mind, and psyche are parts of an inseparable whole. You cannot improve one by separating one from the other. In Asanas, the process starts with the stimulation of the physical body, but the transformation it creates envelops your whole self. And wherever you are in need of transformation, you meet with the opportunity to shape it. This change and transformation is an opportunity for you. The yoga instructor prepares a flow for you, reminding you to align asanas and focus inside. However, it is entirely up to you whether or not to turn back inside, to look at yourself, to connect with yourself. Yoga itself, and the teachers who bring the yoga to the present day brought us to these lessons and showed asanas. However, neither the yoga teacher in the class nor the yoga teachings can make you find yourself.
Turning back inside is a work that requires self-care, focus, and effort. Working on self is the main area of work of a person who wants to go on the path of yoga. Yoga is calming the mind, calming the mind itself is the process of working on an intense self. However, to the extent that you train and calm the mind, the work on the essence intensifies and deepens. Awareness increases. Just as being pointed out in the Yoga Sutras, you start a new phase of work with the question of “who am I” etc., going deeper on your journey.
This is an internal process that requires examination, research, trial, and error, just like a scientific study. What is the essence? Who am I? Who is seeing? These questions are perhaps the longest stop on the inward journey, which begins with a physical stop at a different angle. The representation of this process is the asana flows, the longest part of yoga classes. Remember, each asana was a small chamber that offered an opportunity to return inward. Each asana is a short workspace. In this respect, the first steps of working on the essence are the rehearsals of the steps to be taken deeper.
Detailed Information on Asanas and Yoga Anatomy
Each of the asanas has a unique form and is geometric. Any pose should have a certain sense of movement, direction, and center of gravity. Muscles must be smooth to maintain the center of gravity. The balance and stability of the pelvis and shoulder belts are essential for the balance and symmetry of the spine. Yoga is the process of learning to recognize and observe the reaction and habit patterns of mind, body, and breath. When you become aware of these movement patterns, you can gradually replace them with more balanced, breathing and thinking patterns.
In every pose, there is another “equal and opposite” movement for each movement. Moving in one direction does not make a positive change in the body. There is no stretching and elongation without a fulcrum. For each movement, there is a fulcrum to help stretch and lengthen. This fulcrum creates firmness and space in the joints; provides muscles to grow; helps organs to be soft and flexible and settle in their place.
In standing poses, the feet are flat on the ground; so the legs and spine are stretched away from the feet. In sitting postures, the hip bones have a function of providing the support that allows the spine to rise and elongate. In upside-down postures, the head, hands or forearms of the arms, serve as a support and balance point for stretching the body and legs. Keep in mind that the main goal is not just the posture. The aim is the entire intellectual process, including thinking about the effects of asanas.
The Effects of Asanas
Among the various effects of asanas are the following;
- Standing postures increase vitality and energy.
- Sitting postures have a calming effect.
- Rotation and twisting movements are purifying.
- The backstroke movements are relaxing.
- Prone postures energize.
- Upside down postures increase mental power.
- Balance postures create a feeling of lightness.
- Bending movements to the back are stimulating.
- Jumping movements improve agility.
Frequent practice of asana poses smooths and aligns bones, joints, and muscles, and also provides physical strength and flexibility, balanced muscle movement and stamina. Thanks to the analysis of actions and the trial and error method, the right effort is discovered. The right effort allows for a balance between convenience and effort when making the move. It is possible to flex and contract the muscle groups correctly; bones fit snugly; the nervous system calms down. Then comes the state of deep thinking. It occurs spontaneously during the action.
As the exercises repeat, their benefits increase over time. You should do the practices systematically and start with simple postures and add more complex asanas to the movement sequence as time goes on. In order to get information about the body in connection with a certain posture, five or six breaths must be breathed in a pose.
It usually takes about two years to get used to the postures and perform them comfortably. At first, it is possible to make a very big step due to the larger movements of the body. Slower progress occurs after you start applying asanas more subtly. The real learning takes place at this stage. Patience, perseverance, openness, and effort are the keys to a successful exercise. Practicing not only changes the physical properties of the body but also changes the mental, emotional and spiritual state of the person.
It is important to realize that asanas are not the endpoint of poses. Asana consists of preparing the next pose carefully, performing the pose and getting out of the pose carefully. The pose thus constantly changes and develops, it is not stationary. During the pose, it is necessary to make the posture correct and complete and to ensure the right fit. If you start the pose correctly, the posture is best done and you can get the most benefit. Energy flows equally. If you consciously take the pose, the risk of injury and damage to the nervous system is also minimized.
How often you will practice is up to you. You should make the times you practice yoga part of your busy schedule because regular exercise is very important. While some people are happy to practice yoga once a week, it may be good for others to practice every day or two or three times a week. This depends entirely on your needs, time constraints and motivation. Remember, even a little effort will benefit a lot. It would be much more useful for you to repeat several movements regularly rather than working two hours at a time.
When Asanas Are Not Recommended
Asanas can be done at any time of the day. When you practice in the morning, the body becomes harder and tense, but the mind becomes sharper. In an evening yoga session, the body will be more flexible and soft, but the mind will be duller.
Keep your eyes comfortable but open while exercising. Your eyes must face the outside world, but the mind must focus inward in order to assess the effect of movements on the body. Your ears will listen to the soft and natural sound of your breath and make sure you breathe smoothly and continuously. Your mouth should be closed. Many movements and breathing techniques in yoga have a healing effect. However, in some cases, certain postures are not appropriate (they are not recommended):
- Heart disorders: Do not raise your arms above your head.
- Menstrual period: Do not make upside-down postures.
- Pregnancy: Do not practice breath-holding.
- Eye problems, ear pain, or congestion: Do not practice breath-holding and upside down postures.
- High blood pressure: Do not practice breath-holding and upside-down postures, except when the legs rest against the wall.
If you have any illnesses or medical problems, you should definitely consult your doctor before starting yoga. It’s a good idea to ask your questions or concerns to a qualified yoga instructor. Your stomach should be empty while doing Asana exercises. It is best to wait two hours after a light meal and four hours after a heavy meal before starting yoga. Asanas stretch, compress, rotate and reverse the abdomen. Stomach disorders such as nausea, heartburn or cramping can be caused by doing yoga with a full stomach.
Continuing yoga classes with a teacher can strengthen your yoga exercises. Being under the supervision of a teacher who can comment on the way you practice the movements is important for both your understanding of yoga and your development. When we practice postures, we often think that we are doing the movements correctly, but in fact, we either perform the movement wrongly, compromising the accuracy and benefits of the posture, or we are not fully aware of the movement. Watching someone else carefully increases your awareness and encourages you to learn more about yourself.
Your teacher can set difficult goals and suggest some changes to the way you do the movements, which will strengthen your work and give your movements depth. You will learn fine details that have never come to your mind. Then, you can take advantage of this new sense of awareness that you have just gained while you are going to your home with your energy refreshed and motivated. When the collective energy of a yoga class is combined with the gathering of people with similar thoughts, your experience in yoga gains strength. You can share your experiences with other people in the course, thus helping to increase each other’s level of awareness and knowledge.
Yoga Sutras say that asanas must have a double effect in the form of agility and relaxation. Everything requires effort when you first start yoga. The body-mind system is trying to find its way in foreign lands, looking for completely new ways of movement and existence. Finally, the sense of effort and ease is balanced in the exercise of asana and the breath begins to flow smoothly.
Health Benefits of Asanas: The Correct Anatomy of Yoga
Asanas in yoga are very beneficial for health. An asana provides balance both by making bodily and mental stimuli. In addition to providing emotional support, it provides relief from pain caused by stress and posture in the body. It reduces the risk of heart diseases. It is especially good for asthma, sleep problems, and memory problems. It strengthens the immune system. Migraine pain is relieved. It improves eating habits by offering a sexually healthy life. It provides the strengthening of muscles and bones. It provides regulation of stress-related disorders. It provides flexibility to the body and supports blood flow. It ensures keeping blood sugar in balance. It helps regulate the activity of the adrenal glands. It is also very useful for the lungs.
- Provides Lung Health and Breath Control
Yoga asanas, ie yoga movements, provide more comfortable breathing. Yoga is a very important activity that provides breath control. Yoga movements improve bronchi while protecting lung health. Yoga, which is very useful to prevent respiratory problems, supports breathing in good quality and healthily. Yoga, which facilitates breathing through the nose, avoids breathing problems caused by pollen and air pollution. Yoga also helps minimize the negative effects of respiratory diseases such as asthma.
- Protects the Digestive System and Intestinal Health
Another advantage of yoga movements, which provides treatment of digestive system problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation problems, and ulcers, alleviates the risk of colon cancer. Although yoga is a sport consisting of physical activities, it differs from other exercises because it has positive effects on the circulatory system at this stage. Therefore, yoga facilitates the passage of food through the intestines and helps activate intestinal functions.
- Regulates Nervous System Health
Yoga affects mood changes. In this way, it prevents mental fluctuations. It provides the control of mental intense fear, anger, frustration, regret and other negative emotions. In this way, stress and nervous disorders are prevented.
- Balances Blood Sugar
Yoga provides increased sensitivity to insulin effects. In this way, it facilitates weight loss and strengthens metabolism. In this way, the risk of diabetes is reduced. Since diabetes directly affects the heart system, kidney and eye health; balancing blood sugar is very important.
- Balances cholesterol
Regular yoga helps balance bad cholesterol levels in people’s blood. It was observed that good cholesterol levels (HDL) also reached normal values with yoga movements.
- Balances Your Adrenal Glands
Yoga asanas help lower cortisol levels. Normally the adrenal glands support the secretion of cortisol against the acute crisis. This helps to temporarily strengthen the immune system. If the level of cortisol rises in the body, this causes the immune system to suffer. The elevated cortisol level also adversely affects memory and can lead to various permanent changes in the brain. In addition, high cortisol levels interact greatly with depression and stress. If the cortisol level rises, health problems related to high blood pressure and insulin resistance may occur.
The level of cortisol, which allows people who want to eat at the time of anger, especially during stress, to enter this state, decreases with yoga. Yoga helps weight loss and promotes calorie loss. Doing yoga supports the functions of the adrenal glands and lowers the level of cortisol.
- Protects Against Blood Pressure Diseases
If there is a problem such as high blood pressure, yoga will be very useful. Because, according to scientific studies on hypertension in England, it has been determined that blood pressure is reduced to normal levels as a result of performing “savasana” which is an asana of yoga for three months.
- Regulates Blood Flow
Yoga, which supports blood flow, enables the circulatory system to be performed more effectively. Yoga movements regulate blood circulation, especially in the hands and feet. Yoga, which provides more oxygen to the cells, supports its distribution from the blood vessels to the organs more effectively. In this way, cardiovascular health is protected and supported.
Yoga eliminates swelling that occurs in the legs thanks to its ability to regulate blood flow. Prevents adrenal problems. Yoga balances the red blood cell level and hemoglobin level. Yoga maintains the clotting property of the blood.
- Protects and Strengthens Bone Health
Bones begin to strengthen as a result of yoga being done regularly. It helps reduce the risk of bone diseases. The muscular system strengthens as almost all body weight is lifted by the body during yoga movements. Arm bones are especially stronger. In this way, the risk of osteoporosis is significantly reduced.
- Brings Flexibility
Yoga gives flexibility to the spine and other structures. Yoga exercises are quite diverse. Some of these movements can be really challenging. These challenging movements support the development of joint bones and support flexibility. Yoga, which supports the development of knee joints, in particular, gives flexibility to the connective tissue and muscle tissue.
- Strengthens and Protects Muscle Health
Yoga helps to strengthen muscle health as it accommodates many physical movements. In strengthened muscles, the risk of pain and ache disappears.
- Strengthens the Immune System
According to scientific research, yoga movements support the strengthening of the immune system and the recovery of cell health. In addition to providing both mental and spiritual balance, it also supports the strengthening of the immune system.
- Relieves Migraine
In scientific studies, it has been determined that migraine pain is relieved by means of yoga movements. Especially practicing yoga regularly for 3 months alleviates migraine pain. Perhaps the healthiest way to relieve migraine pain triggered by a number of environmental factors is through practicing yoga exercises.
- Has Positive Effects in Terms of Sexual Health
According to scientific studies, it has been determined that regular yoga exercises for 12 weeks have positive effects on both men and women, such as increased sexual desire, sexual arousal, orgasm, sexual performance. Because yoga movements restore blood flow and circulation. In this case, the genital area pelvic muscles develop and their health is preserved.
- Improves Sleep Quality
Researches for the effects of yoga on sleep quality revealed that yoga performed for 8 weeks improves sleep quality and supports regular sleep. Yoga helps to fall asleep more quickly, as it prevents negative situations such as fatigue.
- Good for Stress and Depression
It helps relieve stress and depression. Especially by stimulating the adrenal glands, it helps the secretion of adrenaline and prevents the formation of stress. It alleviates depression and anxiety disorders and eliminates the factors that threaten mental health.
- Relieves Back Pain
Yoga has the feature of treating chronic back pain. Especially if it is done regularly, muscles are relaxed and back pain is relieved. It supports the relief of pain caused by constant sitting or working a sedentary lifestyle.
- Protects Fertility
Since yoga is a sport that protects mental and physical health, it helps the brain to secrete hormones in a balanced way. In this way, it supports women’s reproductive organs to work healthier.
- Protects Heart Health
Yoga asanas are a well-proven sport that scientifically affects heart health. They reduce the risk of a heart attack.