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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Yoga and Posture: Dr. Benjamin Zorensky explains how proprioception can help improve one's posture through a regular yoga practice.

Aug 28, 2015 07:04AM ● By Dr. Benjamin Zorensky

With careful attention, the yoga asana can become a tool to improve posture both on and off the mat. Proprioception is the unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself. In yoga, the practitioner can improve proprioception through conscious and precise muscular contraction, or asanas, that challenge balance, strength and flexibility.

Standing on one leg or bending backward with arms overhead, the brain processes feedback information from pressure and tensile sensors within the muscles, tendons, skin and bone. Asanas require the mind and body to become feedback loops for one another. If the mind is distracted and not focused on proper weight displacement through the arch of the foot, the posture is compromised.

In order to maximize the ability to gather sensory information, yoga is performed without shoes. The foot is a biomechanical masterpiece comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints, 100 muscles/tendons/ligaments and 200,000 sensory neurons, plus blood vessels and skin. The barefoot connection with the ground affects the positioning of the lower leg, thigh, pelvis, spine, neck and head. Each joint with load-carrying capacity above the arch of the foot centers on a natural plumb line in the direction of gravity. During static or still asanas, isometric muscle contraction pulls on bone, but does not shorten the muscle in length—allowing a tensile strength to hold the long bones of the body in the direction of gravity so the skeletal system can carry the load.

Yoga practice translates to precise neuromuscular values off the mat. Whether doing dishes, bending over to pick up a piece of trash or simply walking to the refrigerator, our attention is given to sensation and function, while holding an asana on the mat translates into all movement off the mat to ergonomically align the spine for better posture and improved function.

Benjamin Zorensky is a naturopathic physician, certified bikram yoga instructor and co-owner of Bikram Yoga Tempe. For information phone 480-777-0939 or visit BikramYogaTempe.com.

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