Muscle tone is developed when the muscle can take your body’s weight or ‘load’, and still stretch sufficiently to be flexible. Your muscles are never completely relaxed, and even in a resting condition your muscles are usually in a partial state of contraction and are slightly stretched. Strictly speaking therefore, muscle tone is the minimum degree of contraction present in a muscle when it is at rest and preparing for further muscle action. However, the position and stability of the body requires adequate muscle tone. It is in this sense we talk about improving muscle tone.
Generally speaking, the stronger a muscle is the less flexible it can be (and visa versa). For example, it is often the case that a yoga practitioner will have a strong / dominate side (let’s say the right hand side) and a weaker but more flexible other (left hand) side. By improving muscle tone through regular practice of yoga asana (postures) we train the muscles to work independently (as explained below) which increases their strength without compromising their ability to stretch.
Certain yoga asanas or yoga positions will stretch one muscle group (in, for example, the right leg) and at the same time will require the other muscle group (in the other leg) to take the load. Such yoga asanas are repeated so that both the right and left side of the body are worked equally. This ensures that all the limbs/muscle groups are, on the one hand strengthened, and on the other hand stretched / flexed.
The improvement of muscle tone is one of the reasons for the particular arrangement and sequence of postures that we offer. Our Damian Cadman-Jones teaches a style of yoga which is a system of continuous flow of yoga in which the muscles always ‘move with the breath’. This engages the parasympathetic nervous system, i.e. the body’s ‘rest and digest’ mode, and ensures oxygenated blood circulates within the relevant muscle group. This removes toxins from the muscles (e.g. lactic acid) and supports muscle tone.