In the world of sports and athletics we regularly see the amazing feat human body is capable of. We watch athletes doing pole vaults and remain awe-struck. When sports legends like Lionel Messi and Roger Federer have their shots on the target, it convincingly demonstrates endurance, power, energy, flexibility and dexterity of human body. So, it is worth exploring how human body functions and undertakes various tasks marvelously. Human anatomy is the science that studies body structure from head to toe. In order to gain deeper knowledge about how yoga works positively on the physical body it is very important to have a clear understanding of functional human anatomy. Besides, it would help decide which yogic postures would be good for the practitioner or which all could harm the body.
Many people learn to practice yoga on their own and in absence of proper guidance end up hurting certain body parts. So, until we know our body we would not be able to pinpoint the impact of yoga. Moreover, practice of yogic postures has its impact slowly and gradually in the beginning so it may not be easy to assess the effect, intended or otherwise. It is quite possible that one starts working on right side of the body instead of left in absence of insufficient or complete lack of knowledge about the body structure and its various systems. It is therefore quite important to have basic understanding of human anatomy. This also helps in mastering alignment and adjustments during yoga practice.
This is the reason yoga courses have human anatomy as its key component. Even if you are not in the field of yoga, understanding of body structure could help you modify or correct your postures and stay healthy.
The physical human body contains bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints, multiple organs and other components. They together function to enable a person to do various activities. Functional anatomy focusses on movements in the body and functions of different organ groups. The entire body system could be divided into multiple parts namely skeletal, muscular, respiratory, nervous, digestive and urinary systems to understand the functional anatomy of the human body.
The skeletal system could be seen as a super frame which holds the entire body. In absence of this strong structure the body could collapse under the influence of gravity. It protects various key organs in the body. For example, the ribs in the upper body part protect heart and lungs. The skull shields the brain. Comprising of bones and cartilages, the skeletal system supports movement in the body. It also stores minerals like calcium and phosphorous, and release them when needed. In an average adult body, there are 206 long and short bones.
There are 80 bones in the axial skeletal system and 126 in the appendicular skeletal system. While the axial skeleton consists of the bones of the head and trunk, the appendicular skeleton system consists of the bones of the shoulder girdle, the upper limbs, the pelvic girdle, and the lower limbs.
A joint is a place where two bones are fitted together. It is supported by cartilages and reinforced with ligaments. The joints are primarily of three types — fibrous, cartilaginous and synovial. Fibrous joints are immoveable while cartilaginous joints allow some movement. The synovial joints are freely moveable. There are six types of synovial joints — hinge, saddle, plane, pivot, condyloid and ball and socket. Ball and socket joint facilitates a wide range of movements.
The muscles in the body have three main functions — movement, production of heat and maintaining postures. Most muscles such as skeletal muscles in the body are voluntary which means they can be moved as per a person’s will. But there are involuntary muscles such as cardiac muscles which are involuntary. This means they cannot be controlled by conscious thought.
There are three different types of muscles namely skeletal, cardiac and visceral. There are about 700 muscles that are connected to the bones of the skeletal system. The skeletal muscles help in a wide range of physical actions such as running, walking and lifting. Cardiac or heart muscles are responsible for pumping of the heart. It is therefore vital for circulation of blood across the body. The visceral muscles are involuntary and are found within organs such as intestines. These muscles help in the transportation of materials within the organs.
The respiratory system consists of organs involved in breathing. They include nose, throat (pharynx), windpipe, bronchi, bronchioles and lungs. The nasal cavity and pharynx are together referred as the upper respiratory system. The lower respiratory system comprises of windpipe (trachea) and lungs. The respiratory system performs the function of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. Apart from this key function it also allows us to talk and smell.
During inhalation air travels through nose and reaches the lungs via pharynx, larynx and trachea. Once air is in the lungs it enters tiny balloon-like air sacs called alveoli. The alveoli are surrounded by tiny blood vessels called capillaries. Here carbon dioxide is removed from the blood and oxygen passes into your blood. Blood then goes to your heart which pumps it throughout the body.
Nervous system of the body consists of brain, spinal cord, and the massive network of nerves. They are connected by neurons and transmit signals across the body. It coordinates and controls the body functions. The nervous system has two main parts — central nervous system (CNS) comprising of brain and spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system (PNS) made up of nerves that branch off from the spinal cord.
PNS provides sensory information to the PNS. Through the wide and complex network of nerves, the nervous system regulates body mechanism.
Brain is one of the most amazing parts of the human body and is often referred as the command centre of the body. It is divided into three parts namely hindbrain, midbrain and forebrain. The hindbrain consists of medula, pons and cerebellum. The hindbrain coordinates key functions of breathing, sleep, movement and motor activity.
The midbrain is located below the cerebral cortex and is associated with vision, hearing, motor control, alertness, and temperature regulation. It controls movement and reflexes enabling you to respond to all kinds of situations. The midbrain has three main parts — the tectum, tegmentum, and the cerebral peduncles. The tectum is the dorsal side of the midbrain and is involved in certain reflexes in response to visual or auditory stimuli.
The tegmentum runs through the pons and medulla. It is primarily involved in homeostasis and reflex actions. The cerebral peduncles are the anterior part of the midbrain. Made up of a mass of nerve fibres, there are two cerebral peduncles on each side of the brainstem. They help in motor functions.
Forebrain contains the cerebral hemispheres, the thalamus, hypothalamus, epithalamus, and subthalamus. This part of the brain is involved in processing of information related to complex cognitive activities such as logic and reasoning, sensory and associative functions, and voluntary motor activities.
Coming to PNS, this part of the nervous system lies outside your brain and spinal cord. The PNS is involved in carrying commands from the brain to several parts of the body and sending information from those parts of the body back to the brain.
Cardiovascular or circulatory system
Cardiovascular system consists of heart, blood and blood vessels. The heart located in the middle of the chest keeps pumping the blood day and night through the blood vessels. The heart has two sides and each of it has two chambers. The cardiovascular system moves inhaled oxygen from lungs to body tissues and removes carbon dioxide while exhaling. Oxygen deprived blood comes to the right side of the heart and is sent to the lungs. In the lungs, blood absorbs oxygen and gets rid of carbon dioxide.
Oxygenated blood then returns to the left side of the heart. This is called pulmonary circulation. The left side of the heart pumps the oxygen-laden blood to the tissues in the body. The oxygen-deprived blood then again returns to the right side of the heart to complete the circuit. This is referred as systemic circuit.
As the left side of the heart has to pump blood to the entire body, muscles in this part is thicker than left side.
The digestive system consists of gastrointestinal tract, a long continuous tube that extends from the mouth to the anus, pancreas and gallbladder, and liver. It includes the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. The digestive system is one of the most complex and diverse systems in the body. Each of the food coming through this system is broken down to the level of molecules so that they can be utilised and absorbed by the cells.
The process of digestion starts in mouth where it is chewed and mixed with saliva. The chewed food then passes through esophagus and reaches the stomach where acids and enzymes help further break down the food.
It then moves into small intestine where it continues to be broken by digestive enzymes for absorption by bloodstream. The large intestine absorbs water and electrolytes from the remaining indigestible food matter, and then compacted into feces which are passed out from the body through the rectum and anus. The liver and pancreas also produce enzymes and bile which aid in the digestion process.
The main function of urinary or renal system is to filter blood and eliminate waste and excess water from the body. It consists of kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. The kidneys are located in the upper abdomen and filter blood removing the waste products in the form of urine.
The ureters are two thin tubes that move urine from the kidneys to the bladder. The bladder stores urine until it is eliminated from the body through the urethra. The urethra is a tube that runs from the bladder to the outside of the body. The kidneys filter the blood and maintains the electrolyte balance and also regulates the pH of the blood.
The urinary system plays very important role in maintaining the overall health and balance of the body by eliminating waste products and excess fluids.
Female Anatomy and Male Anatomy
The key difference between the female and the male anatomy is their reproductive organs. They have physically different sexual anatomy.
Female reproductive anatomy consists of both internal and external reproductive organs. They include external genitals, or the vulva, and the internal reproductive organs, which include the ovaries and the uterus. The uterus or womb is a muscular organ where a fetus develops and grows. The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus and are responsible for transporting the egg from the ovary to the uterus.
The ovaries are responsible for producing eggs and the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
The vagina is a flexible, muscular tube that connects the uterus to the outside of the body. It also plays a role in sexual intercourse and childbirth. The endocrine system of females including the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries which release hormones like estrogen and progesterone regulate the menstrual cycle and ovulation.
On the other hand, male reproductive anatomy includes the bladder, epididymis, penis, testicles, scrotum, and prostate gland. The penis is a reproductive organ which also functions as a urinal channel. It contains the urethra, which carries urine and semen out of the body. The scrotum is a sac of skin that hangs below the penis and contains the testicles or testes. The testes are responsible for producing sperm and the male sex hormone testosterone.
Epididymis is a long tube that is located near each testicle. The epididymis moves the sperm from the testicles.
Internal structure of the male anatomy includes the prostate gland, seminal vesicles, and vas deferens. The prostate gland is of the size of a walnut and produces a fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Sac-like glands that lie behind the bladder, seminal vesicles produce a fluid that helps to activate sperm. The vas deferens is a tube that carries sperm from the testes to the urethra.
The male reproductive system also consist of a complex network of hormones including testosterone. They help in the process of sperm production and maturation.
The male anatomy plays a vital role in reproduction and sexual function.