As a yoga lover, I yearn for a good warrior in the morning! It’s such an empowering pose, and I love meeting my own gaze in the mirror as I sit down deep in my front leg and stretch out in both directions – feeling connected, being on purpose, and internally aligned with infinite energies.
The warrior pose, or any other yoga pose for that matter, does not happen by itself however. There are three systems that work together helping our body move – the skeletal, muscular and nervous systems.
Today we’re going to take a closer look at how our bones move in poses, as well as some of the benefits that our skeleton gets from yoga!
Our body is a carefully designed piece of art, and operates in unique harmony. Our skeleton and muscles move together effortlessly, almost like a lever device, which consequently makes it easier and lighter for us to move around. When a muscle shortens (contracts) this either moves the skeleton toward or away from another bone, and then back the other way when the muscle lengthens (stretches).
Bones are connected to each other with ligaments, and to muscles with tendons. Proper alignment in yoga is the key to a safe and healthy practice. If we are not aligned properly, our ligaments and tendons could risk being pulled and take the strain.
Never push yourself into a pose that doesn’t feel good however! It is important to use props as you build up your flexibility. Also, it is important to remind ourselves, that we are all shaped differently. Some bodies have their bones touching closer, they have “compression” in places other people are still open. The way your bones are shaped and laid out will never change – no matter how much your stretch! This is the way you were born. Some people can for example hyper extend their elbow, whereas another person’s elbow stops when the arm is stretched out straight.
Our body comprises a number of joints, all strategically placed to help us move around. There are our elbows (flexion and extension only), wrists (variety of movements), and ankles (multiple movements). Our shoulder joints are very flexible, whereas our hip joint is more limited in motion. Similar to our elbows, our knees only allow movement in one direction – flexion and extension. Imagine how fun it would be if we had the same flexibility in our knees as our shoulders!
Our spine has a total of 33 vertebral bones, and can be divided into five sections or segments: Cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccyx vertebrae. Although the individual joints along the spine don’t move much, the spine as a whole has a lot of flexibility. It is very important to exercise the spine to keep this healthy flow in motion.
We may think of the skeleton as a white piece of bone, but the truth is it’s very much alive! Our skeleton constantly renews itself in a two-step process known as bone remodeling. Bone remodeling is facilitated by calcium, and vitamin D, hormones and exercise all help the body use calcium in the process.
You may have heard of the term, Osteoporosis – this is a result of an imbalance in the remodeling process. It is important for children to start exercise early, and keep a healthy diet in order to build a strong foundation for bone health.
The best way to avoid, or at least reduce osteoporosis is to strengthen our bones, and yoga is one of the best exercises we can do for our bone health. In yoga, weight-bearing postures such as table pose and plank can be very beneficial. Chaturanga is an excellent pose for building strength, as it also involves moving the body against resistance. If you have a weak upper body, you can always place your knees on the mat, you still get the same results!
If you do have osteoporosis, it is important to work with a yoga teacher who has specialized training in this area, as some poses could be harmful. Some of these poses include camel, and spinal twists. As always, proper alignment is vital for safety. You may nee to bend your knees in downward dog in order for your spine to be straight.
Other back- strengthening postures include warrior I, tree pose, half moon, cobra, and locust pose!
Happy Warrior Yogis!
Love & Gratitude,
Disclaimer: The sole purpose of this article is providing information and inspiration. The information shared is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. Please consult a licensed health care professional if you should experience any health concerns.
Anna-Karin Bjorklund is a writer and dream expert based in Newport Beach, California. An intrepid world traveler, she has lived in five countries and loves exploring different cultures and connecting with people. Her latest book: a memoir based on a spiritual journey to India and the philosophical remnants of stepping into her power and finding the path of self-love, comes out in November, 2017. She is also the author of Dream Guidance: Interpret Your Dreams and Create the Life You Desire! Anna-Karin loves sharing her passion for dreams and personal growth with audiences near and far, and has made media expert appearances on Fox & Friends, and the Steve Harvey TV Show on NBC, and been interviewed by Women’s Running Magazine, Money Magazine, Daily Worth, Marie Claire UK and other media outlets.