Anatomical enquiries to refresh and redefine the experiences of your physicality in your practice so that yoga becomes a democratic expression of your body-mind.
Anatomy is more than grasping the building blocks of the spine, the lego of limbs or the names of muscles. It is more than an awareness of how to keep yourself and your students safe on the mat. Anatomy is the unravelling of the body's stories that can help us to organise and orient our physical form in a way that transforms our yoga practice.
Anatomical maps tend to segment the body into defined sections or parts for focused study. Rather like a Marie Kondo project, having sifted and sorted the content, explored your choices and found the anatomy story that gives you the greatest joy, you put it all together again so that each part informs each other and you rediscover the coherence of your own wholeness.
Arms and legs and spine, body and breath, all the sensations and experiences of your physicality are refreshed and refined and your practice becomes a truly democratic expression of your body-mind.
image: Clockwork Love - Frank Tjepkema
THE INTELLIGENCE OF CELLS & TISSUES
Exploring the cells allows you to dive into the tissues and get to know their own vitality and individual characteristics. When you study experientially, you lift this knowledge off the page or the screen and seed it in your body to discover and own the felt sense of your anatomy.
In this authenticity of your experience, you start to build a more intelligent relationship with your body; it becomes clear that the nature of your bones means they are suited to weight-bearing and the nature of your muscles is for moving and expressing.
This clarity can make a significant difference to how you organise your body efficiently and effectively in your movement practice.
Image: Alexander Dummer via Pexels.com
BREATH AS A TEACHER
The breath is a constant companion and communicator. When you learn how the body organises breathing through exploring the structures of bones, diaphragms and associated muscles, you gather an awareness of how an effortless breathing might be experienced. This can be truly transformative when it comes to your mat practice.
Expanding your awareness of breathing to include the underlying cellular movement and rhythm of internal respiration provides a deep layer of support for your body and the external breath. Tapping into this cellular breath reimagines your physicality as trillions of shimmering cells of breath organised into a single human form!
MUSCLES AS A COMMUNITY
What would it be like to consider the muscles as a community, even a democracy, working in synchrony to position and move you through space?
Not just as singular identities like a biceps or a group like the quads, but knowing that every yoga form is a whole body movement of distributed effort and support through the layers of your muscle body.
Rethinking the muscle body can redefine what you mean by effort, strength and flexibility and what expectations you place on your yoga practice to address your perception of strength and suppleness.
A SPINE WITH A STORY
Bones, discs, ligaments and joint spaces, so many component parts of your spine, and yet it emerged in your embryology not as a puzzle or a set of disparate building blocks to stack but actually from a wholeness.
Reimagining your earlier spinal origins opens up your body memory to its fluid origins that might help you find another way into areas of restricted movements, while coming home to the location and nature of the long and short ligaments of the spine might awaken a deeper sense of containment.
RETHINKING THE LEGS
Where does your leg begin and end? In your hip? your pelvis, your spine? How does your foot connect you to the ground as your stand or walk. Have you found the arches and the spirals? And what if you reclassified your knees as ball and socket joints and not hinges?
Finding your own anatomical truths has the potential to transform the simplest of movements: the bend of the knee, the rotation of the hip, the footprints you make on your mat.
THE MAP WITHIN YOUR HANDS
Look at your hand and trace the contours with your fingers or with your breath. Is there anything about your hand that is flat?
In arm support forms, as you yield and push from the ground, how will you maintain the integrity of this structure? Does it help to sustain the hollow of your palm and restrain the spread of your fingers? How will you sustain the arches of your wrist?
These are the sorts of questions that arise when you start to unpack the anatomy and rethink many of the teaching cues you have heard or used; and gradually, you will find the answers that are right for your body.
Unravel yoga anatomy with our new online course, Yoga Anatomy Fundamentals.
An experiential approach to yoga anatomy with content from world-renowned Amy Mathews and Leslie Kaminoff, as well as guided live-streamed sessions to help you unpack your anatomy and Sanskrit learning with our expert tutors who will keep you motivated all the way .