Get The Skinny On…..Five Great Yoga Anatomy Books

 

yoga anatomy books, yoga anatomy

 

Yoga anatomy books are a great investment for any yoga teacher or teacher in training.  Human anatomy is a vast topic but it is very useful for a yoga instructor to have an understanding of how the body moves and functions.

There are many great anatomy books out there dedicated to the subject of anatomy focusing on yoga asana.   Here are five to consider for your bookshelf.

5 Great yoga anatomy books for yoga teachers

Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff & Amy Matthews

Yoga Anatomy Leslie Kaminoff
Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff/Amy Matthews

The thing I love about Yoga Anatomy is the fact that it is the perfect goldilocks size.  Not too big, nor too small but just right.  It is a paperback format book that covers a great deal and is not instantly overwhelming!  As a teacher training favorite, it is easy to read and presents a great deal of information in a very understandable way.

The opening chapters cover breathing, the spine, and the muscular and skeletal systems.  I particularly like the breathing chapter which covers use of the diaphragm in depth.  Each asana is grouped logically by type and broken down into 4 sections – the skeletal joint action, muscular joint action, breathing in the pose and a useful notes section relevant to the asana.

The diagrams are clearly illustrated and show the relevant muscles and bones that are key to the pose.  For me, if you are going to invest in a yoga anatomy book, this is a good place to start.

Page from anatomy book Yoga Anatomy
a sample page from Yoga Anatomy

 

The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga by Ray Long

key muscles of hatha yoga ray long
The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga by Ray Long

I came across a ‘favorite anatomy book’ survey on a Facebook yoga teacher group recently and Ray Long’s range of books were at the top of the list.  This book does exactly what it says on the cover and shows you the key muscles of hatha yoga across a range of poses.  Big, clearly labelled illustrations show the inner workings of poses clearly and coherently.  As well as a brief but helpful chapter on the skeleton, there are also chapters about joints, ligaments and tendons clearly illustrated with easy to grasp descriptions.

The poses are illustrated in skeletal format with muscles shown in isolation.  This is accompanied by helpful information to describe the body’s physical rotation and flexion and extension in a particular pose.  Brief sections on breath and bandhas are worth a look.  This is one of the clearest books on muscle use in yoga and I can see how it is the yoga teachers book of choice.  Ray Long has also published a number of other yoga anatomy books that are super helpful to yoga instructors.

key muscles of hatha yoga ray long
a sample page from key muscles of hatha yoga

 

it is very useful for a yoga instructor to have an understanding of how the body moves and functions…

 

Yogabody by Judith Hanson Lasater

yobabody judith hanson lasater
Yogabody by Judith Hanson Lasater

I love every book written by Judith Hanson Lasater and this is not an exception.  However, it is a more intense read.  The approach to anatomy is taken from the physical region of the body as opposed to the yoga asana.  Each region is analyzed by bones, joints, connective tissue, nerves and muscles with a dedicated section on kinesiology (the mechanics of body movement).  The information presented is comprehensive and in depth but takes a little extra focus.  Closing each chapter is a helpful section demonstrating how to put what you’ve learnt in to practice as an instructor in a yoga class.  If you are looking to learn anatomy in a little more depth this book is a good investment.

Yogabody by Judith Hanson Lasater
a sample page from Yogabody

 

The Anatomy of Exercise & Movement by Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones

the anatomy of exercise and movement
The Anatomy of Exercise and Movement by Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones

Although not strictly an anatomy book dedicated to yoga this is a very useful book for those working in movement practices like yoga.  There is a useful chapter discussing the ‘core’ of the body, a term more common to pilates but nevertheless interesting to anyone wanting to understand more about yoga anatomy.  This book explores the movement of the body and the affect of movement.  Worth a look if you are a teacher who also practices different disciplines such as dance or pilates.

The Anatomy of Exercise & Movement
sample page from The Anatomy of Exercise & Movement

 

Anatomy Coloring Workbook

anatomy coloring workbook
anatomy coloring workbook

There are many versions of anatomy coloring books available on the market.  I’ve owned my workbook published by The Princeton Review for many years and have referred to it often.  Simply a coloring book that encourages you to learn as you color.  It is a useful tool to have in addition to any of the anatomy books listed above as a way of reinforcing your understanding.

Anatomy Coloring Book page the princeton review
Anatomy Coloring Book page

In summary, all five of the above books are incredibly useful resources for yoga instructors wishing to understand more about  anatomy.  The benefits of having even a basic knowledge of anatomy can support your teaching skills and provide valuable additional information for your asana explanation and demonstration.

Which books have you found to be incredibly useful in your understanding of yoga anatomy?

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please know that I am an affiliate and may receive a small commission for anything you may purchase via yogaskinny but at no additional cost to you 🙂

yoga anatomy for yoga teachers
Great yoga anatomy books for yoga teachers

 

 

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The Value of Practicing Yoga with an Experienced Yoga Instructor

practice with an experienced yoga teacher, experienced yoga teacher, yoga for middle age, yoga and injuries
A recent report by the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine discovered a rise in yoga related injuries for older students

Yoga is popular, it’s as simple as that, and today more and more older people are embracing the practice attracted by the wealth of health and self care benefits it offers.


However, as the number of yoga students has grown, so too have the number of yoga related injuries being treated.  Bad news whichever way you try to spin it.

A recent article published on the leading website yoga journal.com has found that there has been a marked increase in yoga injuries, particularly for those in the age categories 40 and upwards.  This could be seen as a reflection of the growing number of older students led to yoga on the advice of healthcare professionals.  Or increasing numbers of students practicing yoga following many years of other exercise disciplines or very limited exercise habits.

Are physical injuries increasing with yoga’s popularity

The study by the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine examines injuries over thirteen years starting in 2001.  This is a period of time that also coincides with a large increase in yoga teacher trainings and the number of opportunities to study and teach yoga.

Although most trainings cover a spectrum of yoga topics, in many cases, only around 20 of those hours are dedicated to anatomy study.

This growth is great news for everyone as it increases choice and accessibility along with employment and experience for yoga teachers. However, currently, the only criteria that needs to be met in order to teach (in most cases) is the completion of a 200hour training.  There are many 200hour yoga trainings around which, like most things in life, can differ in style and quality.  Although most trainings will cover a spectrum of yoga topics, in many instances only around 20 of those 200 hours are dedicated to anatomy study.

Even for an experienced teacher, a class that provides safe sequencing for a large group of students with an array of physical & medical issues can be challenging.

It is unfair to suggest that any brand new teacher would intentionally cause anyone harm but it takes experience, study and understanding of the physical body and a broad range of conditions to safely and effectively lead a class.

With aging bodies comes the inevitable wear and tear of joints, weakening of connective tissues such as ligaments and other musculature changes as well as the range of physical conditions that spring up in later life.  These are all important aspects to consider when teaching an older group of students.

Even for a very experienced yoga instructor, a class that provides safe sequencing for a large group of students with an array of physical & medical issues can be challenging.

This is not to say that a recently qualified teacher does not have the ability to teach a class well.  It’s just that older students need to be mindful and responsible for their own self care too.

Listen to your own body and be selective about the classes you attend particularly when starting out.  Yoga is all about losing the ego so don’t let your own ego dictate that you attend that fast moving, level 2 class.  Take time to build up your practice with a well informed, experienced teacher making gradual progress to the faster, stronger classes if that appeals.

From a student’s perspective, the more yoga experience and study that a teacher has, the more it will also benefit their own learning. Doing some research to find a class that combines your choice of instructor with the appropriate level is important.

 Inexperience or little knowledge about a condition could unintentionally cause injury.

Although it may be uncomfortable for you to ask an instructor directly, you can research online or chat with other staff and students at the location where you attend class.  Most yoga teachers, regardless of experience, welcome questions as no teacher would want to knowingly hurt a student.  However,  inexperience or limited knowledge about a condition could unintentionally cause injury.

The benefit of continuing yoga study for experienced yoga instructors

Depending upon the yoga school or tradition the teacher follows, many 200hour graduates may continue in their studies with an additional 300hour teacher training.  Others may diversify and focus on a particular school of yoga or facet of practice.  These trainings provide practicing teachers with an opportunity to study yoga in more depth including aspects of injury management and yoga therapy.

So take a little time to research further and consider experience, qualifications and ongoing study to find your perfect yoga match.

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ask an instructor – Nicole Quibodeaux

Nicole Quibodeaux - yoga, yoga tune up & pilates instructor
Nicole Quibodeaux – yoga, yoga tune up & pilates instructor

Nicole Quibodeaux

Nicole is a yoga tune up (yoga with therapy balls) teacher and teacher trainer and a pilates instructor

ask an instructor – 10 questions answered in just 8 words. 

the very first yoga class you attended? Prenatal Yoga at Mindful Body, San Francisco

what is it about yoga that inspires you? finding deeper relationship with self through the body

what yoga item(s) could you not be without? Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls, blocks, blanket, strap

your favorite post yoga class snack?  Green smoothie or cold brew coffee!

which book would you recommend to a brand new student of yoga? Yoga: Fascia, Anatomy & Movement by Joanne Sarah Avison

if you could teach a class anywhere in the world, where would it be? Big Sur

type of class you like to attend when you are not the instructor? everything from strength classes to aerial yoga

favorite thing to do if not doing yoga? spending quality time with family & friends

if you weren’t a yoga instructor? a somatic therapist (holistic therapy integrating mental, emotional, spiritual and physical)

and finally……

as a yoga instructor, what do you hope a new student takes away from your class?  better connection to themselves and sense of wholeness

learn more about Nicole and her teaching schedule at  www.movementreform.com

you can contact Nicole direct on  quibodeaux@gmail.com.

Ask an Instructor – Alison Scola

Alison Scola

Alison Scola

Alison is an E-RYT 500 yoga instructor,  C-IAYT Yoga Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Lead Teacher Trainer 

ask an instructor – 10 questions

the very first yoga class you attended?  Ohio in 1994, seeking relief for debilitating back pain.  Divine guidance led me to my mentor & yoga therapist’s Hatha yoga class.

what is it about yoga that inspires you? The opportunity to heal on physical, emotional, energetic, causal, & spiritual levels. A yogic path offers limitless tools for continuous growth & ultimately, to identify as only Love.

what yoga item(s) could you not be without? My mat, blanket, & bolster.

your favorite post yoga class snack?  Water or tea is always nice.

which book would you recommend to a brand new student of yoga?  Moving into Meditation by Anne Cushman.  She articulates beautifully the relationship we are building with ourselves during practice.

if you could teach a class anywhere in the world, where would it be? A  sunrise class at Hanalei Bay on the island of Kauai, my favorite place on earth.

type of class you like to attend when you are not the instructor? Those classes that keep a focus on holding space for healing & self discovery.

favorite thing to do if not doing yoga?  Outside of asana practice I love dancing, running, swimming, hiking, & singing.

if you weren’t a yoga instructor?  If I wasn’t a yoga therapist/massage therapist…. I would devote myself wholly to music & dance.

and finally……

as a yoga instructor, what do you hope a new student takes away from your class?  

My greatest wish is that a new student finds a place where they can feel safe, get quiet, & begin to hear & sense the voice within.

Alison is an experienced yoga teacher, yoga therapist and teacher trainer.  E-RYT 500, C-IAYT Yoga Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist, Reiki Master & Lead Teacher Trainer.

You can contact Alison by email alisonscola@gmail.com

Or find out more about her schedule via her website www.alisonscola.com

 

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Ask an instructor – Susan Kjesbo

Susan Kjesbo
Susan Kjesbo – certified yoga therapist

Susan Kjesbo

Susan is a yoga instructor and certified yoga therapist (C-IAYT). Her teaching expertise includes therapeutic yoga, restorative, yoga for seniors & Yoga Tune Up

ask an instructor – 10 questions 

the very first yoga class you attended? Laguna Beach recreation dept. My instructor used an Indian rug instead of a mat!

what is it about yoga that inspires you?  Yoga is transformative from the inside, outside, mind and body

what yoga item(s) could you not be without? If I could only pick one, my mat. It is an oasis to me.

your favorite post yoga class snack?  Hmm don’t really have one but maybe a “green drink”.

which book would you recommend to a brand new student of yoga? Depends on the interest. Autobiography of a Yogi (Paramahansa Yogananda),  Meditations from the Mat (Rolf Gates), Yoga for Osteoporosis (Dr Loren Fishman).  Some people are interested in the spiritual or physical aspects, others the historical or philosophical aspects. Starting with what interests you will keep you interested!

if you could teach a class anywhere in the world, where would it be? I am passionate about travel and could easily give you an exotic place however where the students are engaged and present is the most rewarding and exciting to me.

type of class you like to attend when you are not the instructor? My practice is changing. I like a class that is not hot fast yoga but one where I can connect to my body on that day.

favorite thing to do if not doing yoga? Hike, travel

if you weren’t a yoga instructor? I was an elementary art teacher prior to teaching yoga. I would go back to that.

and finally……

as a yoga instructor, what do you hope a new student takes away from your class?  A Connection to their body and the desire to try another class (of any kind of yoga).

learn more about Susan and her teaching schedule at  www.susankjesbo.com

to contact Susan yoga@susankjesbo.com

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