The Human Heart

A poem, by Elaine Ee
The human heart begins beating about 21 days after conception
It is located in the middle of your lungs
Behind your breastbone, slightly to the left
Encased in a sac that protects the heart,
Anchors it to the surrounding body parts and
Stops it from overfilling with blood
It weighs about 300 grams and is roughly the size of your fist
It comprises mostly smooth muscle
Each day, a heart beats an average of 100,000 times and
Pumps 7,500 litres of blood
Your heart has four chambers:
Two atria and two ventricles
The left ventricle is the strongest
And has enough force to pump blood through your whole body
Electrical impulses from your heart muscle cause your heart to beat
With each beat your heart contracts and relaxes
Systole and diastole, systole and diastole
And the amount of blood ejected by each systole
Is called the stroke volume
So you can see why when blood stops flowing to
A part of the brain
It is called a stroke.
Also known as a “brain attack.”
Your whole life is in your heart
That’s what people mean when they say
My heart is in your hands
Treat it gently
Please don’t break it
If a heart is broken
The heart muscles suddenly weaken
The left ventricle bulges abnormally and you experience congestive heart failure
In mild cases of a broken heart, your ventricle returns to normal in two months
In extreme cases, you die
When your heart is broken you feel physical pain in your chest
Your heart grows sad and lonely
It slows down
Feels heavy
And aches
This type of broken heart a cardiologist cannot fix
So take care of your heart
All 300 grams of it
Because when it is weary
It weighs so much more
And if you love someone
Give them your heart
All 300 grams of it
And it will mean so much more

Anatomy — Uttanasana (how to avoid/ alleviate pain in the hamstrings)

Anatomy – Uttanasana
 Stretches hamstrings and spine, strengthens thighs and calms the body down (parasympathetic).
 Stimulates liver and kidneys. Improves digestion.
 Relieves stress and mild depression; reduces fatigue and anxiety.
 Relieves symptoms of menopause in women.
 Effective for ailments like asthma, high blood pressure, infertility, osteoporosis, and sinusitis.
 Back injuries  perform pose with modifications (eg: bend knees or rest hands on the wall, legs perpendicular to torso and arms parallel to floor)

Obstacles: Tightness in hamstrings
Typically the pain is present during forward bends such as Uttanasana or Paschimottanasana and is located in the region of the sitting bones (ischial tuberosities) where the hamstrings originate. This soreness can become chronic because continuing to stretch the hamstrings in the same manner aggravates the problem.
Resolve: Balance and Distribute the stretch during forward bends

The hamstrings are located on the backs of the thighs. They are composed of three muscles. On the inside of the thighs are the semimembranosus and semitendinosus. On the outside are the biceps femoris. The hamstrings originate from the ischial tuberosity (except the short head of the biceps, which originates from the femur). They insert on the lower leg. Contracting the hamstrings bends the knee.
1) Biceps femoris (long head)
2) Semitendinosus
3) Semimembranosus
4) Biceps femoris (short head)
The following movements aid to distribute the stretch along the length of the hamstrings:
1) Bending the knees releases the hamstrings at their insertions on the lower legs.
2) Activating the psoas muscle tilts the pelvis forward and stabilizes the origin of the hamstrings. This action draws the torso towards the thighs.
3) Maintaining the pelvis tilting forward and gently contracting the quadriceps to gradually straighten the knees focuses the stretch on the distal regions of the hamstrings and away from the overstretched area at the origin. Contracting the quadriceps also results in “reciprocal inhibition” of the hamstrings and causes them to relax into the stretch.

It is best to build this new method of stretching over time. If pain occurs in the hamstrings, one should back off on the stretch by slightly bending the knees.

How to Safely Hold Asanas If You Have a Joint with Hyperextension

Increased flexibility is many people’s goal when they are practising yoga. However some people can naturally have too much flexibility in their joints and this must be carefully managed to help prevent damage to their joint. If a person has hyperextension of the knee or elbow hinge joints, then it will look as if the joint is being bent backwards.
The anatomical name for this over flexibility of the joints is called “hyperextension”. Hyperextension can also occur through injury, however in this blog I am going to discuss the importance of differentiating the asanas for those who are born with elbow and knee hyperextension and how to perform them without causing injury.
Whilst hyperextension does not cause discomfort to people whose joints are like this, it can in the long term lead to arthritis or ligament damage: when a joint is hyper extended the ligaments supporting it will be put under a lot of stress. It will also mean that the correct leg or arm muscles are not engaged during the asana as the joint will be taking the pressure.
One example of when you may see or experience hyper extension of the knee is in standing asanas such as tandasana. If one hyper extends their knees then this must be counteracted by slightly bending the knee, to prevent the knee joint from over extending backwards. It will of course look different to the traditional tandasana pose, however this is the correct way to do the position to avoid injury to the knee ligaments.
Hyper extension of the elbow can occur in sitting and inversion asanas. An example is when one is performing trikonasana or marichyasana poses. A person who hyper extends their elbow should counteract this by maintaining a slight bend in their elbow, which will allow for the correct muscles to be engaged and developed and will prevent overbearing weight on the elbow joint.
So, if you have hyper extended joints, or if you are teaching someone with hyper extended joints, this will mean that the visually asanas should look different as bending of the knees and elbows will be necessary to counteract the hypertension.