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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7 Yoga Class Planning Tips for Yoga Teachers

 

tips for yoga class planning, yoga class plan, teachers plan
Yoga Class Planning Tips


Yoga class planning is a big part of a yoga instructor’s teaching career to ensure that classes are safe and inspiring but it can be challenging to keep class themes fresh and original.

Maintaining personal yoga study is an important part of teaching but it is easy to get attached to favorite poses and sequences.

With this is mind, here is a list of seven easy ways to keep classes inspired and organized using the teaching resources we have already accumulated.

Improving your yoga class planning and organization

1 Get Organized

Having all of your notes, sketches and plans in one place is the start point to getting organized.  Try compiling a journal that combines all of your class notes with dedicated sections for class types.  Paste in pages from other notebooks or build up a stack of photocopies if you can’t bear to tear pages.  Alternatively, a really workable solution is to invest in a printable class plan that can be arranged in a filing system that allows for reshuffling of pages to accommodate changes and expansion.

2 Be Consistent

Keeping one dedicated place for class plans will soon build into an invaluable class teaching manual.  Consistency will also help you keep track of your class history to ensure variety and avoid repetition.

Look at older class prep notes to see which poses, breath techniques or sequences you may have used in the past but have gravitated away from.

3 Make Use of Old Stuff

Review older class prep notes and yoga class plans to see what poses, breath techniques or sequences you may have used in the past but have gravitated away from.  There is a good chance that there is a vinyasa or a transition that you haven’t used for a while which you can now resurrect with a fresh perspective.

folder for class plans
Downloadable class plans organized in one place for easy reference

4 Combining Plans

Experiment.  Try taking the opening sequence of one of your favorite class plans and mixing it with the middle flow section of your most recent vinyasa to create a pot pourri style class.

it is easy to get caught up with relying on our own favorite poses and sequences.

5 Create a System

Over time, as you gather all of these new, inspiring sequences and class plans, you can create a system organized by level, pose group, anatomical focus, spiritual theme or whatever other way you approach your teaching.  Using a simple binder or adaptable filing method such as the disc system from Arc at Staples   will become your personal yoga class plan ‘go to’ center for inspiration and direction.

downloadable yoga class plan template
Class plan templates incorporating a theme page, written sequence page and sketch page

6 Reuse, Recycle, Regenerate

Every scribbled note has something to offer whether it be a list of poses or notes from a training manual or a favorite quotation, book or piece of music.  Make use of what you already have.

7 Read & Review

Always maintain your personal reading whether it be digitally on blogs and websites or in your own collection of magazines and books.  Your constant reading, researching, and curiosity about yoga will continue to inspire.  Remember that even the oldest and most experienced teacher is always still a student.

How do you keep your yoga class planning fresh?  Share your tips and ideas in the comments – we’d love to hear them.

 

 

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Classic Yoga Books from the Last Fifty Years

 

Classic yoga book, vintage yoga book, yoga books, yoga text, yoga reference
Six Classic Yoga Books from the last Fifty Years

I’ve just ordered Judith Hanson Lasater’s new book, Restore and Rebalance and am very excited to learn more about restorative yoga.  Being a paper kind of girl,  I love a new yoga book, and while I have invested some serious money on books in the past I’ve begun to get a little more selective in what I buy (for the sake of my bank balance if nothing else!)

It feels like new books are continuously published on the topic of yoga.  While it is always great to see new, beautifully photographed books on the subject I sometimes find that I’m not learning anything new as the content can be a little repetitive.

Hence, over my years of study and practice I have accumulated many older books about yoga, some of which were first published as far back as the 1950’s.  All of them still have something inspiring to offer and useful information for the yoga student or teacher.  As a teacher, they are great books to refer to when studying, understanding and preparing for practice or class.

Six classic yoga books worth tracking down

Here are six vintage books from my yoga library that I read and refer to often.

Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha – Swami Satyananda Saraswati (first pub.1966)

Copy of Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Classic text Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha first published in 1966 and still relevant today

I came across this book when I first started studying to teach.  It has an old school, textbook quality to it that I love and offers hand drawn sketches of the poses and great chapters covering pranayama (breath), bandhas (root locks), mudras (which includes hand poses) and shatkarma (purification practices) amongst others.  At the back of the book is a short, but useful, therapeutic index describing the practices suited to certain conditions.

Yoga 28 Day Exercise Plan – Richard Hittleman (first pub. 1969)

Richard Hittleman's Yoga 28 day exercise plan
The original 28 day yoga exercise plan !!

There are 28 day plans filling bookshelves and blogs but this one dating back to the sixties must be one of the originals!

Divided into 28 days, the book offers a short sequence of a handful of poses along with a page of ‘thoughts for the day’.  Accompanied by black and white photos of a leotard clad female yogi, I have dipped into this book often for inspiration and for its simple presentation.  I’ve often wondered about some of the alignment that’s going on i some of the poses but, over all, I still love this book!

Fundamentals of Yoga – Rammurti S Mishra (first pub.1959)

Fundamentals of Yoga by Rammurti S Mishra
Even yoga books published in 1959 remain relevant today!

I picked up a copy of this book on Ebay around ten years ago.  I was craving a yoga read that offered a new perspective on yoga from a time when the practice was still evolving in the West. (in this case, the 1950’s).  It is one of those books that makes me realize how vast the topic of yoga is.  There is always more to know and learn.  My favorite chapter to refer to is chapter 4, The Cittam (the mind).  It gives a rich and interesting perspective on the laws of the mind alongside interesting chapters discussing  the practices of tratakam (training the gaze) and pranayama.  Just as a note, it is an intense book and I can’t pretend to have read it cover to cover or to understand all of the material it includes.  But it does give a fresh perspective and understanding to topics you thought you knew.

…first published as far back as the 1950’s.  All of them still have something relevant to offer with depth in the subject and inspiration and information for the yoga student or teacher.

Yoga for the West – Ian Rawlinson (pub. 1987)

Yoga for the West - Adapting the ancient principles to the oder person's needs
An inspirational book that uses the ‘yoga stickmen’ in its sequencing that any teacher will be familiar with!

Racing up to the eighties with this one!  Yoga for the West describes itself as being a ‘manual for designing your own practice’ with the promise of ‘adapting the ancient principles to the modern person’s needs’.  It consists of a bunch of sequences with sketched stick figures that any yoga teacher will be familiar with.  I’ve used this book many a time to inspire vinyasa sequencing.  There are many variations, observations and pose descriptions to discover which are all useful for teaching purposes.  Well worth a look for the serious student, teacher in training or current teacher.

 

 Yoga for Physical Fitness – Richard Hittleman (pub.1964)

Chapter 'Yoga for the Housewife' from Yoga for Physical Fitness
1964 publication of Yoga for Physical Fitness with special chapter ‘Yoga for the Housewife’

A good friend of mine recently gave me a copy of this book which she had found during a thrift shop rummage.  Richard Hittleman was responsible for promoting yoga through books and TV shows in the West presenting the topic in an understandable and down to earth way.  This particular book was ahead of its time in some ways as he focuses on yoga for working people doing the sedentary kind of desk work that we still do today.  He also discusses breathing techniques and a couple of special conditions that are relevant to modern life.  However, it is also very much a book of its time (1960’s) as one of the chapters is entitled ‘Yoga for the Housewife’! – helping to guarantee a smile too!

 

Light on Yoga – BKS Iyengar (pub.1966)

Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar
The yoga classic Surely every yogi has a copy of this!

Lastly, Mr Iyengar’s absolute classic.  How amazing is it that this is one of the most well known and well used yoga books and yet it was first published in 1966?   Light on Yoga is still being published today and continues to be one of the most widely recognized yoga publications.

 

Despite their age, sourcing these books is still possible on Amazon.  Not all are currently in print but there are several opportunities to buy used copies.  Both Amazon and Ebay are great for used finds.  Secondhand bookstores, library sales and thrift stores are also well worth a look if you have the opportunity and inclination to rummage.  Many of mine are thrift store treasures!

 

 

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Why Yoga Teachers Should Write a Mission Statement

Mission Statements for Yoga Teachers
The value of writing a mission statement for yoga teachers

Why do you teach yoga?   We all have our own reasons for pursuing the teaching path with our own unique set of qualities and skills to offer.  A mission statement is a concise, descriptive statement of our own personal vision that details, in a few lines, why we teach.

Often used by businesses to describe what they stand for and do for their customers, a mission statement is a useful tool for yoga teachers.  It is a distillation of the qualities, values and talents you have and summarizes what you and your yoga teaching has to offer.

A mission statement is a concise, descriptive statement of our own personal vision that details, in a few lines, why we teach.

So, what makes a mission statement?

To start, simply list your personal strengths and qualities.  Be honest, but not modest, as you note down your skills.  Doesn’t need to be too spiritual or profound, just who you are.  Perhaps you are welcoming and sensitive to the needs of others with a great sense of humor thrown in.

Next, consider your core values.  You may want to inspire and create a sense of community.  Or, perhaps you are eager to support those with health issues and feel it is important to give back to others.

Choice of 3 PDF Mission Statements from etsy store yogaskinnystudio
Available to download from etsy store yogaskinnystudio

Evaluate your reasons for teaching and the unique combination of qualities and skills that make you, you.  Jot down your responses to these points in list format first and then summarize into your personalized mission statement.

For example, for our fictional yoga instructor…..

  • Energetic, loyal & reliable
  • Core values are building community & making a difference to the health and wellbeing of others.
  • Teaches because she/he is passionate about the benefits of yoga for all levels of student.
  • Approachable and tends to laugh about life with a positive outlook.

Based on this brief list of facts a mission statement might read something like this…

“My mission is to……..share the benefits of yoga with others and be part of a growing and supportive community that is inclusive and caring.  By teaching with creativity and humor I want to connect with and inspire others to practice and develop the skills to embrace the highs and lows of life”.

Updating your mission statement

Once written, keep your mission statement close to hand as a source of inspiration and motivation on those off days and refer to it frequently.  Making regular updates and tweak your statement over time to ensure that it still aligns with your values and beliefs.

…keep your mission statement close to hand as a source of inspiration and motivation on those off days and refer to it frequently.

Grab a notebook and pen and start working on your mission statement or take a look at yogaskinny’s  mission statement template available at yogaskinnystudio’s etsy store 

 

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