By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Understanding Yoga anatomy is critical to understanding the benefits and risks, of practicing and teaching, Yoga asanas or pranayama techniques. The study of human anatomy will teach you about the organization and intricate functioning of the human skeleton, muscles, internal organs, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. A good Yoga instructor will have a firm foundation in the anatomy of Yoga, so that he or she is aware of the correct alignment of Yoga poses and the safest way to move in and out of the asanas. A firm understanding of the anatomy of the respiratory system is also very helpful for teaching Yoga students correct breathing techniques, which will leave them with a feeling of energized calmness.
If you are an aspiring Yoga instructor, a course in Yoga anatomy, with an emphasis on comparative anatomy, is a great foundation for your personal practice, or the sequencing of asanas in your Yoga classes. An understanding of comparative anatomy will also help you to ascertain the difference in your students’ musculature systems. Although human anatomy is remarkably similar from human machine to human machine, the anatomy of individuals can differ. A competent Yoga instructor will be able to see these differences and adjust a student’s alignment in the Yoga poses accordingly.
A thorough understanding of Yoga anatomy, as it relates to the human machine, will also teach you about the functioning of the nervous, circulatory, and digestive systems. Yoga teachers, who study anatomy, will learn how students are affected by a regular practice of Yoga asanas and pranayama techniques. This knowledge will benefit you, both on a personal level and a professional level, as a Yoga instructor. You will gain the knowledge of how to move in and out of the asanas safely. As time goes on, you will view the asanas and pranayama practices as therapeutic tools for creating health and balance amongst all of the systems of the human body.
If you are well-versed in Yoga anatomy, you will understand the different angles, capabilities, and limitations of the various joints, muscles, bones, and ligaments of the human body. Of course, different Yoga asanas require that the body move in a variety of ways. Pushing too hard in a Yoga asana, or pranayama exercise, will create muscular pain, strained joints, and a general feeling of anxiety or unease.
A thorough study of Yoga anatomy will teach you about the optimum alignment in Yoga asanas and how to avoid injury. Understanding Yoga anatomy, thoroughly, will also give you great respect for the miraculous design of the human machine.
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