Sunday, 12 March 2017

Yoga anatomy bites- flexion and extension

Yoga anatomy terms can be a little confusing (to me at least!), so over the next few weeks we will be looking at them in manageable blog posts.

If you imagine your body divided equally by a line from the crown of your head to your feet, this is the sagittal plane. Flexion and extension take place in this plane.  When two bones move towards each other, this is known as flexion.  When two bones move away from each other, this is known as extension.  To illustrate this, I will look at the examples below.

If you hold your hand out in front of you and turn your fingers to face upwards, this is flexion of the wrist but if you point your fingers straight forward, this is extension.  

Let's look at Chair pose.  Stand in the middle of your mat, feet hip distance and bend your knees deeply as if you are sitting in a chair that is a little too far back.  Now the thigh bone, femur, and lower leg bones come closer together and so this is flexion of the hip joint.  The knee joint is also in flexion. Now lift your arms forward and up - again this is flexion of the shoulder joint because the upper arm bone, humerus moves closer to the shoulder bones. The situation is similar when you move your arms forward and up in Tree pose. The wrist and elbow joint however are in extension.

On the other hand if you practice Camel pose with your arms back, the humerus moves away from the shoulder bones, so this is extension.  

With standing apanasana where you draw your knee into your chest the hip and knee joints are in flexion but if you then take your leg back as you would in Warrior 3 they would be in extension.

Now let's look at the very familiar Downward Facing Dog.  Here the hip is in flexion, the knee joint is extended as is the elbow, the shoulder joint is in flexion and the wrist joint extended.  

Hopefully that makes it a little clearer.


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