In the last century, muscles were big in fashion and got a lot of attention in the health scene. From today's perspective, the research accessible at the time was still in its infancy, to put it quite diplomatically. Over the intense focus on bones and fascia in recent decades, musculature continued to be studied, but received little public attention as our largest organ system. Quite unnoticed and in the shadow of many popular publications, insights into the functioning of the musculature and its effects on our organism have been gained. In the yoga scene, the focus is mainly on stretching the fascia, muscles and soft tissues and the associated mobility. From a medical point of view, this is dangerous or increases the risk of injury considerably. However, all of this does not have to be the case, provided we expand our understanding from "either-or" to "both-as well". Neither excessive stretching and mobilization nor a focus on meditation and breathing preclude a healthy amount of work-out on the yoga mat. If practitioners prefer to separate the two, there is always the integration of strengthening in everyday life or by means of sports that involve the whole body. In practice and in the courses I experience a large number of unnecessary injuries and chronic pain syndromes, which are very often caused by or despite yoga.

When mobility is backed up by strength, endurance and coordination, it is not a problem and feels good. If not, then acute and chronic pain and injuries occur.

However, many effects of our muscle organ are not seen, not known or underestimated. Well-functioning muscles depend on stimulus (tension) and a recovery phase (relaxation), creative and repeated training to improve coordination and a balanced diet. Whereas it was once thought that muscles, like the brain, needed mainly carbohydrates, i.e. sugar, to function well, we now know that it is mainly periods of non-eating and valuable proteins that keep muscles functioning smoothly and free of inflammation. What is less well known are the effects of muscle on the rest of the body, our metabolism and our minds. Some now well-studied and proven, positive influences include the

  • Increase in bone density
  • Increased stability
  • Good and meaningful endurance in movement and posture
  • Increased protective effect on our joints
  • General pain reduction
  • Balances our immune system
  • Injury prevention and increased resilience for our joints, tendons, ligaments and fasciae
  • Improved cardiovascular and pulmonary performance
  • Efficient regulation of blood sugar levels and blood lipids
  • Reduction of body fat
  • Increased performance and energy levels
  • Extending life expectancy and improving the quality of life in old age
  • Better mood and more balanced emotions as well as higher self-confidence

It still seems suspicious to many that training the muscles and eating a balanced diet should have so many benefits. It seems hardly credible that the secret of healthy aging depends so significantly on the condition of our musculature. Yet the data and facts are clear. And please don't misunderstand: I'm not talking about bodybuilding or extreme sports here, and no, of course the musculature is not to be considered in isolation, but in interaction with the whole organism. It is so easy to improve our health through a functionally stressed musculature and to loosen up our predominantly sedentary lifestyle by reintegrating and appreciating e.g. physical work. It is usually enough to move more often and more, to use the whole body for 15-20 minutes 3-4 times/week or to make everyday life more active again. Daily routines such as climbing the stairs, frequent and brisk walking, lifting and carrying, pulling and pushing, hanging and hopping, gardening and housework can be enough. Or just wisely modifying your yoga practice to include the strength and stability aspect.

We have the choice - enjoy!