By Dr. Prafulla Dorle - Dr. Prafulla is a Doctor, senior yoga teacher and yoga therapist from Yoga Vidya Gurukul. He has rich experience in Anatomy & Physiology of Yoga practices, he is teaching and practicing yoga for the last 10 years along with his medical profession.
The practice of asana involves the practice of balancing oneself. Superficially the balance is at the physical level, but it involves the balance of our mind and thinking processes. The meaning of asana is steadiness and comfort, to maintain the position and balance the body parts.
The physical balance of our body depends on the following factors :
The vestibular sense consists of the semi circular canals and the utricle. The semi circular canals are sensitive to the rotator movements of the body parts, while the utricle is sensitive to the linear acceleration of the body. The function of vestibular sense depends on the acceleration, the speed of the movement .So if the speed is more the stimulus is more and maintaining the balance is difficult. On the other hand if the movement is slow balance is achieved faster as the vestibular sense is stimulated less.
The utricle is also stimulated by gravity. The sense of orientation of head and body parts in the space is dependent on the utricle. In the upright position it is stimulated the least and in the inverted positions it is stimulated the most. Leaning of the body in various positions also stimulates this activity.
The eyes are helpful in maintaining the alignment of the body. The cerebral cortex receives signals from the eyes and the postures are adjusted accordingly. Co ordination of both eyes and the movements involves the activity of the cerebral cortex. It is most important for coming in and out of positions. Both the eyes can keep a check on the alignment of the body parts and also the speed of the movement can be checked.
The sensors from all the muscles in the body are continually sending signals to the cerebral cortex. These signals are useful even if the eyes are closed. But many times these signals can be deceiving. Initially for the alignment of body parts it is not reliable to depend on these signals. The eyes are helpful in checking the alignment in such conditions.
The practice of yoga is helpful in improving the functioning of the balancing mechanism, particularly the balancing postures and the inverted positions. The practice of yoga helps in balancing the activity of the nerve impulses generated in this balancing mechanism. During the practice of yoga there is involvement of mind as well as control of breath.
The voluntary involvement of mind and willful control of breath reduces the cortical activity. The autonomic functioning of the cortex is reduced and the functioning is taken over by mind and will. It creates better control over the body functions and the mind. Further it is helpful in improving the balance and co ordination of the body functions. The mind becomes more stable and focused, even the thinking processes are controlled and balanced.
So the practice of yoga helps in balancing the body and at the same time it helps in balancing the mind. The perfect balance of body and mind can be achieved through the practice of yoga.
Dr. Prafulla Dorle
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