Microgravity Yoga received a Global Nomination.
Find a way to adapt common gym tools for a reduced gravity environment and design a workout routine that can minimize bone and muscular loss while being fun and easy to use during a long term mission. In doing so consider constraints regarding weight (equipment should weigh less than 500kg) and dimensions. Consider incorporating virtual reality to simulate a jog through an astronaut’s favorite Earth destinations or incorporate gaming to motivate users.
We have created a combination of classic Vinyasa Yoga poses and other fitness exercises, and have adapted them to a microgravity environment. There are two types of exercises in our workout routine: 1) Yoga exercises that can be done alone, where elastics and an ultra-grip material on hands and feet will substitute for gravity and 2) couple exercises where the muscular resistance of one astronaut works against the other. The additional purpose of inserting couple exercises in the routine is to create a discreet, non-invasive amount of human contact through touch. This has been done intentionally to reduce the feeling of isolation which can derive from being far away from humanity, and because human touch has been proven to be a stress-reducer, which would compensate for the stressful environmental factors on the space station.
Only three devices are required for the training:
1) A space-yoga mat, which is a carbon platform with elastics. The elastics are attached to the arms and legs of the space-yogi to create resistance and simulate gravity in certain poses. The elastics are fixed on four rolling-carts which run through the length of the mat - this allows for the astronaut to move sideways on the platform without being blocked by the elastics. The mat is covered in an ultra-strong grip material, which substitutes for gravity by keeping the yogi attached to the mat
2) A full-body inflatable suit which directs the blood flow by massaging the body in the desired direction. The outside layer of the suit is made of a strong-grip material which allows for it to stick to the platform, substituting for gravity. The suit includes gloves and socks.
3) A space-yoga bar with suction cups on the legs to keep it attached to the ground/ceiling/wall while the astronaut is exercising
Yoga uses Earth gravity in two ways: 1) the weight of our bodies presses us down and is used to stretch or strengthen muscles. Examples of this are a split (Hanama position), where the weight of our upper body presses our legs apart against the ground to stretch them, and at the same time we work our abs by keeping our upper-body straight. 2) Gravity is also used to flush certain areas of our body with blood. For example in inversions, such as headstands, the blood flows from our legs to our head, flushing our brain with oxygen- this is a perfect morning routine, as it makes us feel more energetic. We would simulate this blood rush to the head by the full-body suit that inflates in a similar way to the medical devices used to measure the blood pressure of patients. Air would be pumped into a suit by a second astronaut through a device. By generating an even pressure and "massaging" the blood down the legs while the astronaut is upside down, we would replicate the effect of doing inversions on Earth.
Our practice focuses on breathing deeply, which strengthens the torso and abdominal muscles. Correct breathing is the key to effective muscle training, and the habit is carried on automatically throughout the day- after our workout, the astronaut not only feel stronger, but will also have an overall feeling of well-being and relaxation.