• Aoife McHugh

Yoganatomy: YTT Module 4

Updated: Jun 15


During the first module of Yoga Teacher Training, I found myself really noticing the power of my breath. I finally became fully awaire of this passive prana that politely goes about its bodily business. I recently listened to Niall O'Murchu on The Real Health Podcast with Karl Henry and he described our breath as "a remote control for our nervous system." We have the zapper (as my Dad calls it!) in our hands so we decide how to use it.

Previously, during yoga class. I had predominantly concentrated on moving from one pose to the next but when I began to really focus on my breathing, Vinyasa took on a whole new meaning. I rediscovered rhythm which was followed by flow and we made a connection (when you know, you know!)

This month, In Module IV, we expanded on our breath practices and focused on diving deeper. It was insightful and delightful to discover just how powerful this practice can be. When you learn about how yoga affects every aspect of our body, you begin to make a much stronger mind-body connection. I will now share some of the bodily benefits I learned during my study of Yoga and Anatomy which henceforth, I will refer to as Yoganatomy. (This month, I decided I would opt for the odd portmanteau over puns, you may have noticed already!)

#YOGAGLOW- not just a hashtag.

Yoga brings us to a parasympathetic state, where the entire body has the opportunity to rest and digest. Yoga repairs the body and builds new younger cells which in turn leads to younger looking skin. Through circulation of the blood, oxygen and nutrients are brought to cells and all of this leads to you feeling swell (as in glowing not swollen!) Try the 30 day selfie challenge and notice how the rate of your radiance changes over time. 


Hip Hip Hooray!

Yoga illuminates the link between the brain and our muscles through the neuro-muscular pathways. As we activate muscles over and over through dynamic practice, new routes open. Synapses come closer together betwixt cells and they eventually become more accessible. What does this mean for me? Some day I will be able to sit like a Yogi and not a like a bear with my hips on the ground and not in the air! Re-wire your brain to change the game! In his 1975 autobiography Muhammed Ali wrote: "ɪᴛ'ꜱ ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴇᴘᴇᴛɪᴛɪᴏɴ ᴏꜰ ᴀꜰꜰɪʀᴍᴀᴛɪᴏɴꜱ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ʟᴇᴀᴅꜱ ᴛᴏ ʙᴇʟɪᴇꜰ ᴀɴᴅ ᴏɴᴄᴇ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ʙᴇʟɪᴇꜰ ʙᴇᴄᴏᴍᴇꜱ ᴀ ᴅᴇᴇᴘ ᴄᴏɴᴠɪᴄᴛɪᴏɴ, ᴛʜɪɴɢꜱ ʙᴇɢɪɴ ᴛᴏ ʜᴀᴘᴘᴇɴ." The same neurological path also links to our thought patterns. We are said to have approximately 60,000 thoughts a day. The conscious brain can only hold one thought at a time so which one will get the W*? The path that is more familiar will. So break out your inner engineer and create new pathways of happiness and balance. Start with positive affirmations and repetition will allow your best self to come into fruition.   *I just love using American sports phrases! Don't roll with Cortisol Yoga impacts everything, even down to our Endocrine System. It allows us to activate our hormones, releasing them through the blood stream and enabling them to travel to our cells and organs. Cortisol which is the stress hormone shuts down non-essential systems that are hindering flight mode. This includes digestion. We all have those days when we get that thunk* in the pit of our stomach and straight away, cortisol comes to play. We then have a choice, we can allow it to ruin the rest of our day or enable our breath to take it away.  *This is actually a word, not just a sound effect from a 1960s Batman fight scene.  Stress leads to all kinds of issues from digestion to reproduction so it is important to keep it in check. Here are some other ways that cortisol can curtail you:

  • If we have poor posture, our breath stays at the top of our body causing stress. 

  • If we keep our abdomen tight, the breath is shallow and therefore gas exchange is limited. 

  • Less deep breathing leads to higher acidity and inflammation in our bodies. 

Take time throughout the day to reactivate your diaphragm and breathe into your belly. I think of it as a corti-solvent, forcing this hell raising hormone to hightail it home with less freedom to roam. The next time you are admiring your cat or dog slumbering on the couch, notice that they are breathing through their belly when they are relaxed.  Stress? Even animals ain't got time for that! ♥ Cardi-yoga-Let's get to to the heart of it ♥ Yoga has the power to get the aortic pump jumping but it can also help to relax pumping. While yoga strengthens the heart both in body and soul, it is important to be even more mindful of movement if you have blood pressure issues. If you have low blood pressure you must be careful changing gravity fast,  it is best to avoid inversions altogether. Likewise, with High Blood Pressure you should avoid inversions as it forces the heart to push blood down against gravity and could cause serious problems. Exhilarating and energizing practices should also be avoided. In Warrior II for example, keep your hands at your heart centre so your heart doesn't have to pump blood up into your arms. Yoga, when translated from Sanskrit, quite literally means "union" and it provides a holistic hug for the body as a whole. Famous Yogi BKS Ayengar expressed this best: "Yoga is when every cell of the body sings the song of the soul." In need of an all-inclusive boost? Take out your mat and get ready to roll. 


 

©2020 by Aoife Mchugh.