Yoga Anatomy - Does It Really Matter?

You may be surprised to hear this but an understanding of human anatomy was not an important consideration in the practice or teaching of yoga until recently.

Even though we can trace some of yoga's roots back thousands of years into human history, the physical practice was traditionally considered an energetic discipline and the physical body was merely a means of creating opportunities to carve out spiritual qualities. Because of this the health producing benefits of good alignment in yoga postures was not seen as important, and form was of little concern. This can easily be seen when viewing photos of even the most revered of modern yoga gurus, Krishnamachrya, as he performs positions that could easily be corrected by even a novice yoga practitioner today.

But most people in the modern world do not come to yoga as an energetic or spiritual discipline, but rather as a means of developing good health and well-being. Through the conscious practice of Adamantine® Yoga it is absolutely possible to evoke all of these qualities, and a solid understanding of the anatomical underpinnings of this approach can create a good foundation for achieving this.

If your goal is to create a healthy body that can sustainably practice yoga for the rest of your life, a basic understanding of human anatomy is important. It will allow for you to practice safely while being confident that the poses you are doing actually benefit your body.

But perhaps even more important is for you to develop a deeper understanding of the WHY behind the practice that you do. You might be surprised to discover that the technological framework beneath the practice of Adamantine® Yoga is rooted in an evolved understanding of how the human body functions. The more you explore the inner workings of this practice and the way this particular ordering of postures maps human movement, the more value it will create for you, and the more confident you will become in knowing that the practice you do fulfills your needs in perhaps the most elegantly simple and effective way possible.

Unfortunately this knowledge of human anatomy is not common knowledge in the modern yoga industry. It's not that the average yoga teacher isn't aware of anatomical terminology, that's not a problem. They can say psoas or shin bone or tell you to engage or relax your glutes, but there is a cognition that's missing, an understanding of what to do with this information that's simply not being taught.

Yoga postures are like letters of a movement alphabet and when positioned correctly, one alongside the other, they become more powerful. A random ordering simply doesn't do this. One could use the metaphor of music as well, like notes of movement, when placed correctly they make beautiful songs, but when ordered by someone who has never been taught to play, it's like listening to a child banging on a piano. It's just noise.

The art of sequencing is rooted in an understanding of anatomy. But unfortunately it's a lost art in modern yoga, if it was ever fully understood in the first place. As the western inheritors of an eastern tradition we imported along with the discipline the attitude of reverence to one's teacher. This deep respect given to Indian teachers came along with the idea of obedience without question. So when we first encountered the sequences of traditional Indian yoga they were copied blindly, without first asking are these appropriate anatomically for modern, western people. And, bluntly put, they were not.

Adamantine® Yoga is the result of my efforts to create an authentic practice for a western body, one that can provide a health producing framework of movement and breath through which a practitioner can also learn the most transformational of spiritual lessons, and I have used my knowledge of anatomy to do this.

If you wish to fully understand your practice you would be wise to learn at least the basics of human anatomy. This knowledge can empower you to practice safely and effectively, and give you the confidence that comes from knowing the "why" behind what you do.


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