Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Anatomical Correlation of Core Muscle Activation in Different Yogic Postures

Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Anatomical Correlation of Core Muscle Activation in Different Yogic Postures

Article excerpt

Byline: Mrithunjay. Rathore, Soumitra. Trivedi, Jessy. Abraham, Manisha. Sinha

Faulty postures due to sedentary lifestyle cause weakening of core muscles which contributes to increased incidence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Although a few research studies have quantified the core muscle activity in various yogic exercises used in rehabilitation programs, evidence correlating it to functional anatomy is scarce. Such information is important for exercise prescription when formulating treatment plans for MSDs. Therefore, the objective of this review article is to examine the literature and analyze the muscle activity produced across various yoga postures to determine which type of yoga posture elicits the highest activation for the core muscle in individuals. Literature search was performed using the following electronic databases: Cochrane Library, NCBI, PubMed, Google Scholar, EMBASE, and web of science. The search terms contained: Core muscle activation and yogic posture OR yoga and rehabilitation OR intervention AND Electromyography. Activation of specific core muscle involved asanas which depended on trunk and pelvic movements. Description of specific yogic exercise as they relate to core muscles activation is described. This information should help in planning yogic exercises that challenge the muscle groups without causing loads that may be detrimental to recovery and pain-free movement. Knowledge of activation of muscles in various yogic postures can assist health-care practitioners to make appropriate decisions for the designing of safe and effective evidence-based yoga intervention for MSDs.


Faulty postures due to sedentary lifestyle contribute to increased risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). These disorders are mainly due to weakening of “core” muscular network. Consequently, it can lead to excessive load on lumbar spine,[sup][1] poor endurance of muscles,[sup][2] imbalance of hip extensor,[sup][3] back injuries, and instability of lower extremity which may ultimately lead to atrophy of paraspinal muscle.[sup][4],[5] Although MSDs can be difficult to treat, there are many clinicians who report positive patient outcomes with various treatment and rehabilitation protocols involving “core” stability exercises to improve spinal stability and function while eliminating pain.

The “core” muscular network, also referred to as the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, is a three-dimensional space with muscular boundaries: Diaphragm (superior or roof), abdominal and oblique muscles (anterior-lateral or front and side), paraspinal and gluteal muscles (posterior or back), and pelvic floor including hip girdle (inferior or bottom) [Figure 1]. The inherent nature of these muscular boundaries produces a corset-like stabilization effect on the trunk and spine,[sup][6] thus causing all body movement to originate from the “core” musculature. A strong and efficient core is necessary for maintaining proper muscle balance throughout the human kinetic system.[sup][7],[8] Due to this reason, in the alternative medicine world, the core has been referred to as the “powerhouse” or “the engine of all limb movements.”[sup][6]{Figure 1}

Yoga is derived from Sanskrit root “yuj” meaning “to control” or “to unite.” Regular practice of any form of yoga helps in establishing natural harmony and functional balance between various organ systems, leading to better health and a feeling of well-being. Yoga has traditionally been viewed as a relatively safe form of exercise. The practice of yoga poses, or asanas, was developed as an approach to align, strengthen, and balance the structure of the body. Further, it has been used to enhance dynamic control of core stabilizing muscles to reduce lower back pain (LBP),[sup][9] through increased hip [sup][10] and spinal flexibility. …

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