Asana and the Biceps

Basics:

The muscles of the arm, shoulder and hand are designed to meet the body’s diverse needs in its daily functions, such as opening doors, lifting weights (groceries etc.), writing or typing. This results that these muscles must not only be strong and fast but also precise.

The muscles in the upper arm are responsible for the flexion and extension of the forearm. The flex ion is achieved by a group of three muscles: the Brachialis, Biceps Brachii and the Brachioradialis. They are positioned on the anterior side of the upper arm and extend from the Humerus and Scapula to the Ulna and Radius of the forearm.

The Biceps Brachii, a Bi-Articular muscle – which means that it helps to control the motion of two joints (the shoulder and elbow) – acts as a supirator of the forearm by rotating tha radius and moving the palm of the hand anteriorly.

The Biceps Brachii is a double-headed muscle, meaning it has two points of origin. The Short Head origins from the Scapula (the Corocoid Process) and the Long Head originates from the Scapula (at the Supraglenoid Tubercle) and both insert on the Radius bone (at the Tuberosity of the Radius) of the Forearm.

 

Asanas:

There are various poses that include exercising the Biceps Brachii but I would like to concentrate on the following ones:

 

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Bhujapidasana, an arm balance pose that builds more on exact positioning than on strength, making it more easier for students beginning with an arm balancing practice.

– Squat with your feet a little less than shoulder width apart, knees wide.

– Tilt your torso forward between your inner thighs. Then, keeping your torso low, raise your hips until your thighs become close to parallel to the floor.

– Snug your upper left arm and shoulder as much as possible under the back of your left thigh just above the knee, and place your left hand on the floor at the outside edge of your left foot, fingers pointing forward. Then repeat on the right. As you do this your upper back will round.

– Press your inner hands firmly against the floor and slowly begin to rock your weight back, off your feet and onto your hands. As you straighten your arms, your feet will lift lightly off floor, not by raw strength but by carefully shifting your center of gravity.

– Squeeze your outer arms with your inner thighs, and cross your right ankle over your left ankle. Look straight ahead. Hold for 30 seconds, then bend your elbows and lightly release your feet back to the floor with an exhale.

– Repeat the pose a second time with the left ankle on top. 1

 

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Chaturanga Dandasana, this pose has found its way into mainstream gym excersises due to the various muscles that are used.

– Perform Adho Mukha Svanasana, then Plank Pose. Firm your shoulder blades against your back ribs and press your tailbone toward your pubis.

– With an exhalation slowly lower your torso and legs to a few inches above and parallel to the floor. There’s a tendency in this pose for the lower back to sway toward the floor and the tailbone to poke up toward the ceiling. Throughout your stay in this position, keep the tailbone firmly in place and the legs very active and turned slightly inward. Draw the pubis toward the navel.

– Keep the space between the shoulder blades broad. Don’t let the elbows splay out to the sides; hold them in by the sides of the torso and push them back toward the heels. Press the bases of the index fingers firmly to the floor. Lift the top of the sternum and your head to look forward.

– Chaturanga Dandasana is one of the positions in the Sun Salutation sequence. You can also practice this pose individually for anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds. Release with an exhalation. Either lay yourself lightly down onto the floor or push strongly back to Adho Mukha Svanasana, lifting through the top thighs and the tailbone. 2

 

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Pincha Mayurasana, taking the Sirsasana to the next level.

– Perform a modified Adho Muhka Svanasana at your yoga wall, with your palms and forearms on the floor. Your fingertips should be right at the base of the wall, and your forearms parallel to each other at shoulder width. This pose isn’t quite as scary as Adho Mukha Vrksasana; it has a firmer base of support, and the head isn’t as far away from the floor. But it can still be somewhat intimidating. To ready yourself for and secure yourself in this inversion, firm your shoulder blades against your back torso and pull them toward your tailbone. Then rotate your upper arms outward, to keep the shoulder blades broad, and hug your forearms inward. Finally spread your palms and press your inner wrists firmly against the floor.

– Now bend one knee and step the foot in, closer to the wall (let’s say the left leg), but keep the other (i.e. right) leg active by extending through the heel. Then take a few practice hops before you try to launch yourself upside down. Sweep your right leg through a wide arc toward the wall and kick your left foot off the floor, immediately pushing through the heel to straighten the leg. Hop up and down like this several times, each time pushing off the floor a little higher. Exhale deeply each time you hop.

– Hopping up and down like this may be all you can manage for now. Regularly practice your strength poses, like Adho Mukha Svanasana (or the modified version that’s the beginning position here) and Chaturanga Dandasana. Eventually you’ll be able to kick all the way into the pose. At first your heels may crash into the wall, but again with more practice you’ll be able to swing your heels up lightly to the wall.

– If your armpits and groins are tight, your lower back may be deeply arched. To lengthen it, draw your front ribs into your torso, reach your tailbone toward your heels, and slide your heels higher up the wall. Draw the navel toward the spine. Squeeze the outer legs together and roll the thighs in. In Pincha Mayurasana your head should be off the floor; hang it from a spot between your shoulder blades and gaze out into the center of the room.

– Stay in the pose 10 to 15 seconds. Gradually work your way up to 1 minute. When you come down, be sure not to sink onto the shoulders. Keep your shoulder blades lifted and broad, and take one foot down at a time with an exhalation. Lift into Adho Mukha Svanasana for 30 seconds to a minute. We tend to kick up with the same leg all the time: be sure to alternate your kicking leg, one day right, next day left. 3

 

Stretching:

After an intense yoga session your Biceps will have deserved a break, so it’s time for them to relax and this is best done trough stretching.

Here are two stretching technics that are really good:

Standing Stretch

Step 1
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Roll your shoulders up and back, as if you were tucking your shoulder blades into your back pockets.

Step 2
Clasp your hands or a yoga strap behind your back and straighten your arms. Whether or not you’ll need a strap depends on the tightness of your biceps and shoulders. If you do need the strap, fold it in half and place one hand on either side of the fold. Then move your hands as close together as you can while still keeping your elbows straight. If you can clasp your hands together, turn your palms either up or down; turning them down provides a deeper stretch.

Step 3
Lift your hands up and away from your back, keeping your arms straight, until you feel the stretch in your biceps. For a deeper stretch, hinge at the waist and bend forward, allowing your clasped hands to fall past your head if your flexibility allows.

Step 4
Hold the stretch for 15 seconds or as long as it feels comfortable. Return to standing, unclasp your hands and shake your arms out.

Seated Stretch

Step 1
Sit on the floor on your bottom with your knees bent and your feet flat. Inhale, roll your shoulders back and lengthen your neck.

Step 2
Reach behind you and place both hands flat on the floor with your fingers pointing away from your hips. Straighten your arms.

Step 3
Exhale and slide your bottom toward your heels until you feel the stretch in your biceps and the front of your shoulders.

Step 4
Hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds, then scoot your bottom back to starting position. Repeat the stretch up to 4 times.

 

 

The data (images & text)  regarding the three yoga poses I obtained from www.yogajournal.com. (30.07.2015)

1. http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/shoulder-pressing-pose/
2. http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/four-limbed-staff-pose/
3. http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/feathered-peacock-pose/

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