Motor control (13) Biofeedback Kinaesthetic awareness
Neural mobilisation (16) Balance Proprioception
Co-ordination Relaxation Cardiovascular fitness
Tissue oxygenation and lymphatic function
Prevention of injuries, delayed onset of muscle soreness, and fatigue
PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF ASANAS
Minimal joint loading and minimal muscle work in correct alignment (11, 12). Students report ease in self-correcting day-to-day postures.
Alignment is developed the frontal, coronal and sagittal planes of movement.
Muscles are worked in agonist-antagonist-synergist balance. Muscles lengthen while balanced by simultaneous antagonist stabilisation. Re-training of faulty habitual movement patterns.
Asanas can be considered a form of auto-biofeedback. Visual, verbal and tactile feed- back aids self-adjustment.
Stretch facilitates sensory awareness of different areas of the body. We discover where our bodies are stiff and supple. Functional muscle strength rather than building muscle bulk. Eccentric strengthening.
Functional flexibility through multidirectional stretch along fascial planes (14). Method of stretching works with viscoelastic properties of connective tissue (15). Maintenance of gliding neuromuscular interfaces.
Development of the skill of balance in different positions and through different points of contact with the ground.
Muscular and articular mechanoreceptors are stimulated in different positions in the range of movement. Co-ordination improves as poses and movement sequences are learned. Deep relaxation is learned through savasana, the rest period at the end of every class.
Inverted postures increase the volume of blood entering the heart, and thus cardiac output, via Starlings Law (17). Stretch maintains elasticity of arterial system.
Re-education of diaphragmatic breathing and controlled inhalation and exhalation. Retention increases vital capacity and ventilation/perfusion ratio (17).
Stretch temporarily decreases blood circulation as blood vessels lengthen and narrow. On release, tissues are flushed with fresh blood. This “squeeze and soak principle” is thought to be of benefit to organ and lymphatic function.
Breathing and relaxation during postures. Sequencing of postures including systematic rests may decrease the build up of lactic acid (17).
Table 1: Relationship between therapeutic considerations and asanas
Physical effects ■ Stretches the posterior aspect of the body ■ Compresses viscera in abdominal region and promotes peristalsis (18)
■ Draws stability from anterior structures.
Emotional and mental effects - The challenge in this pose is to: ■ Let go and not fight what might be a strong stretch ■ Acknowledge current ability and work gradually using the breath ■ Resist competing or forcing.
Energetic effects ■ The posture stimulates the Solar plexus Chakra.
Common mistakes include (Fig. 17): ■ Students try to bring their head rather than chest down to the thighs. This causes excessive thoracic flexion too early in the movement pattern
■ Students hold their heels rather than their toes which creates hip joint compression
■ Hips externally rotate ■ Knees are flexed.
SELECTING A YOGA TEACHER FOR YOUR CLIENT The various styles of Hatha Yoga cater for many different clients and their rehabilitation needs (Table 2). Each offers its own training courses and some have their own professional bodies. The British