Principle of Adaption
The kinetic chain (nervous, muscular and skeletal system) seeks to maintain a state of physiological balance. Also known as homeostasis. To do this, the body must be able to adapt to the physical stresses placed on it. This ability to adapt to 'stress' is known as the general adaption syndrome. This general pattern of adaption was brought forth by Hans Seyle who showed the kinetic chain responds and then adapts to the stresses placed on it. To respond, however, the body must be confronted with a stressor that warrants a response. In yoga, the body will respond initially to a new pose with caution and then over time the body will adapt to this pose. It will then continue to adapt if the body is "pushed further" in the pose.
The body responds at first in what is known as the 'alarm reaction' stage. The yoga poses stresses the body increasing oxygen and blood supply to the necessary areas of the body. There is no real 'change' at this stage. The body is just trying to understand what you are attempting to do. After a period of time that is unique to that individual, the body then goes into the 'resistance development' stage. This is where the body is adapting to the pose increasing motor unit recruitment. It is during this second stage that the individual perhaps notices their body 'changing' and going further in the pose. Once adapted, the body will require increased stress to produce a new response. Or in other words, the individual will need to continue to push themselves to notice more of a change.
The early stages of yoga are undoubtably the most frustrating. We need to not expect too much too soon. When we first adopt a pose, the body has to understand the stress being placed on it before it will adapt. If we expect an increase in flexibility after just a few classes we will no doubt be left frustrated and disheartened.
How long are we in the first 'alarm reaction' stage?
There is no way anyone can correctly answer that. Everyone is different. The individuals exercise history, work patterns and injuries will all play a key role in determining when the body is ready for stage two. The key is to be patient and persevere. The famous footballer Pele once said; "Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”.