Jacobs Journal of Yoga and Natural Medicine

An Electromyographic Analysis of Selected Asana: Males vs. Females

Published on: 2018-06-18

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to use surface electromyography (EMG) to examine the muscle activation of the tibialis anterior (TA), gastrocnemius (GA), rectus femoris (RF) and biceps femoris (BF) muscles during various yoga poses (asana). Muscle activation was then compared between poses and between males and females. Design: The study was a single occasion descriptive design. Subjects: Twenty healthy yoga practitioners (10 males, 10 females) with less than five years of experience were recruited. Setting: Subjects participated in a one time only visit for data collection at the Motion Analysis Laboratory at Quinnipiac University. Interventions: EMG activity was recorded during maximum voluntary isometric contractions (MVIC) of the TA, GA, RF, and BF using the Biodex Multi-joint System®. Subjects then performed the following yoga asanas while EMG activity was recorded: downward facing dog, chair pose, half-moon pose, and tree pose. Each asana was held for fifteen seconds and performed three times. Outcome measures: Raw EMG data were collected using a 4th order Butterworth filter with cutoff frequencies of 20 and 500Hz and the root mean square was obtained. Asana data were then normalized with the subjects’ individual MVIC. Integrated EMG was calculated for RF, TA, HS, GS, in each asana. A factorial linear mixed models regression analysis was performed. Compared to males, females had higher RF mean peak integrated EMG across all poses (p=.02), and higher GA and BF mean peak during the HM pose only (p’s <=.01). Significant differences between poses were also noted in the TA and BF for selected comparisons. Results: There were significant main effects by pose, primarily in CH, HM and TR poses. Gender appears to affect RF, GA and HM output in specific poses only. Conclusion: The study revealed differences in males v. females for some, but not all muscles. The actual pose (asana) appears to impact EMG output more than gender, however, further study is warranted.

Keywords

Yoga, Electromyography, Posture, Asana