Yoga Teacher Training Day 3: Anatomy of a Yogi

Welcome back! We had a three-day weekend of training this month.  Friday night was a rather in-depth discussion of anatomy and the musculoskeletal system.  Say that three times fast! If you’d like to go back and read about my first weekend of teacher training, you can find Day 1 here and Day 2 here. Let’s get into it!

Anatomy: Getting Under the Skin

My teacher trainer gets visibly excited about teaching and discussing anatomy. Which is why it pains me to confess that to this point, I haven’t been in love with the anatomy part of the program. I expected to be far more engrossed by it than I am, but the reading just did not spark my enthusiasm. Nonetheless, it’s important information to have if you’re going to teach yoga!

Friday night, we started out talking a lot about the skeletal system. We had a good discussion about the structure of the skeleton and how it works to keep us supported in movement. Small tangent: I did have a silent chuckle to myself at one point when we were talking about this. My elementary school gym teacher used to “motivate” us to do our exercises by telling us that there were kids in Africa who were born without bones who would love to be able to move and stretch like we had to in class. I mean, he probably did not mean they had no bones anywhere at all. It’s one of those things people say without really thinking about it. But the mental image was one of basically sad human puddles. Which brings me back to the conversation: without our bones, we’d be human puddles!

Anatomy model: skeleton
This guy will never be a puddle.

We also talked a bit here about how the skeletal system can be a limiting factor for some people in movement. We all have basically the same parts, but they do differ slightly from person to person. Sometimes, there are even differences on each side of the same person. The result is that although we teach basic alignment, each pose will be a little unique to the person doing it. That’s something I really love about yoga. Just the idea that every individual has their own mountain pose, for instance, makes me a little giddy.

Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain

We moved from the skeletal system to the muscular system. My teacher trainer talked about how the real movement of the muscles takes place in the smallest threads of our muscles: the myofibrils. However, it isn’t something we have to actively think about, and we can “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”, so-to-speak, and focus on the bigger picture of the muscular system.

The bigger picture, of course, is how our muscles, tendons, and ligaments work to create movement. There’s a lot of technical anatomical information involved in how that works. Agonist (primary mover muscles) and antagonist (the muscles that relax to allow the primary movers to work) pairs. The differences eccentric, concentric, and isometric muscle contractions. The differences in function between ligaments and tendons. It’s too much to cover here.  But the big picture is how all of it works in concert to create the wonderful and amazing range of movement in the human body.

So, How Do You Feel About Anatomy Now?

Am I now on fire with a passion for learning anatomy? I don’t know. I still don’t think I’m going to be a person who picks up anatomy textbooks and reads them for fun. But I can say that my teacher trainer’s passion and enthusiasm make it much more interesting to me than the books ever could. I have a greater appreciation for the subject. It is certainly awe-inspiring to think of how all of these parts work together to create dynamic movement. I can see how it would create a hunger to learn all that you can about the subject.

That’s about it for Friday night! We honestly covered a great deal for such a short time together (only three hours). Next week I’ll have a wider range of subjects when I talk about our Saturday together. I hope you still found this post interesting, though! If you’d like to take your own deep-dive into yoga anatomy, you can check out a few of the books we’re using. Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff has some beautiful illustrations. Anatomy and Asana: Preventing Yoga Injuries by Susi Hately is a smaller book, but make no mistake. It is packed with great information, and her explanations actually work a bit better for me.

See you next week!

One Reply to “Yoga Teacher Training Day 3: Anatomy of a Yogi”

Comments are closed.