Mind Muscle Connection
- How does a muscle work ?
- What is Muscle Contraction ?
- Is Asana a Workout ?
- Which is better - Workout or Asana ?
There are more than 600 muscles in our body. The muscles attached to the bones are known as skeletal muscles.
These Muscles comprise of two parts – the Bulk of the Muscle and the Rope of the muscle, also known as Tendons Bulk of the muscle is made of Fibres and microfibers known as ‘SARCOMER’
These microfibers are arranged in filaments just like two combs meshed together. When the muscle contracts these filaments come together .
When the muscle is stretched they are separated.
But how does the muscle work ?
The brain controls the muscle.
The Brain has the map of the body. It decides which muscle should move.
The muscle moves when it receives the order from the brain.
Through the motor nerve the brain tells the muscle to contract.
Contraction is an Active function of the muscle.
When the muscle contracts, length of the muscle decreases and the tendons pull the bone to create movement.
At the same time, the opposite muscle stretches for the movement to happen.
Partially contracted state of the muscle is called Muscle Tone.
Even though the muscle is not active, it remains in partial contraction. Muscle tone helps to maintain posture.
Stretching on the other hand is not an active function of the muscle.
Muscle is relaxed when it is gradually stretched and held at it final position.
In weight lifters there is over toning of the muscles as the focus is mainly on Contraction. The opposite muscle is not properly stretched.
Hence they are usually less flexible.
At the same time, when the muscle tone is less and the muscle is weak , there is a tremor during lifting weight or holding a posture. When muscles are weak holding an Asana for a longer duration is not possible.
Also When the muscles are weak, various wrong muscle groups are engaged to hold the Asana. This is excess and unnecessary effort.
Therefore a balance between Muscle Tone and Stretch is necessary.
As the muscle tone and Muscle stretch is balanced, the right muscles are used to perform the Asana so that effort is limited and precise.
Maharshi Patanjali says: प्रयत्नशैथिल्यानन्त्यसमापत्तिभ्याम्॥
The mark of progress in an Asana is the lessening of the effort.
So is Asana a workout? or are there any differences between Workout and Asana
In All Workouts, there is continuous repetitive action, whereas In Asana, there are 3 movements – Entry , Hold & Release.
In all workouts the heart rate increases. As heart Rate increase, breathing is intensified.
But in Asana, the heart rate is maintained and breathing is controlled.
As the Heart Rate increases during a workout, metabolic rate increases and more energy is consumed. Whereas in Asana, metabolic rate is normal and less energy is consumed.
During Workouts, the awareness is normally turned outwards and focus is externalised. For eg:- listening to music or looking at screens can be incorporated in a workout.
Whereas in Asana, the awareness is turned inwards and the body and breath is observed.
After an hour of Workout, one is exhausted and needs rest to recover. Whereas Asana itself is rest and one feels energised.
Both Workout and Asana perform different functions and are equally important
- A good workout increases metabolism
- It improves digestive capacity
- It helps to lose or gain weight depending on personal goals.
- It trains the body to spend energy and recover energy
When Muscles are regularly stretched during Asana Practice they relax.
When the length of the Muscle is increased, blood circulation improves and the muscle is nourished.
Toxins are flushed out effectively. That’s why you feel relaxed and energised after performing Asanas.
This means that there is a Relation between the State of Mind and the Muscles
The Mind Muscle Connection
The Brain which controls the muscles is also influenced by Emotions.
Under influence of Emotions, the brain is unable to co-ordinate the Muscles to perform precise action.
The muscles can remain stiff, under heavy influence of emotions,
Even Professional athletes are sometimes unable to perform under the influence of Emotions and Stress
Also, when under stress people are unable to keep still and keep shaking their hands or legs.
This is emotional influence of stress on the muscular system.
This shows how emotionally disturbed one is.
Through the Yogic practice of Asana and Pranayama , the limbic system of the brain which is responsible for behavioural and emotional response is calmed.
Studies show that Yoga practitioners are less reactive to negative emotions.
They manage their energy efficiently by disengaging from negative emotions and focussing their attention on the tasks at hand.
As negative emotions are not allowed to interfere, the brain has more free resources.
Probably that’s the meaning of the term ‘Free your mind’
Once the mind is free from all negative thoughts, it is ready to focus on whatever you want.
It is ready to Concentrate!