The Anatomy of Yoga

I often find myself hesitating, if ever so briefly, when it comes to writing reviews of books; for I am somewhat split in my opinion.  On the one hand, I have garnered quite a bit of knowledge from many Yoga texts – but on the other…it can become confusing.  And what of contradictions between authors, often two or more disparate opinions or “essential practices?”

In the final analysis, books are not to be opened lightly.  Books serve as conveyors of many things, including wisdom and knowledge.  The duality of an object lies not in the object itself (the book); but you and I, the readers…  The two books we are going to review today are both ‘books of light and knowledge,’ and as a pair could easily be the only Yoga companions anyone would ever need…from a scientific point of view.

The Key Muscles of Yoga

The Key Muscles of Yoga: Scientific Keys, Volume I offers a scientific approach to understanding Hatha yoga and the major muscles, tendons and ligaments that come into use.  The finest quality of this book is revealed in the full color three dimensional illustrations – imagine watching someone perform an Asana after stripping off their skin – able to see the effect of the pose on every muscle.  Very precise anatomical and physiological descriptions serve to point out how the antagonist, synergist and agonist muscles act with each pose and how the body utilizes them in the movement.

Anatomical mumbo-jumbo

Although there are many anatomy books on Yoga available, they tend to require deep reading and a whole new vocabulary.  The Key Muscles of Yoga maximizes the images and minimizes the paragraph upon paragraph of anatomical mumbo-jumbo.  As a Yoga instructor, this book will enable you to work more closely with yourself and your students, as well as open up new doors into your own understanding of the mechanics of each pose.  New and experienced Yoga practitioners will find The Key Muscles of Yoga and invaluable companion and will aid in sharpening awareness of your body’s responses and reactions during your practice too…which brings us to the second book!

The Key Poses of Yoga

As with The Key Muscles of Yoga, The Key Poses of Yoga: Scientific Keys, Volume II is authored by Ray Long, M.D.  Ray Long is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Bandha Yoga.  Dr. Long graduated from The University of Michigan Medical School with post-graduate work at Cornell, McGill, The University of Montreal, and The Florida Orthopedic Institute.  Ray has studied Hatha Yoga for over twenty years and has trained extensively with the likes of B.K.S. Iyengar and other Yoga masters.

The Key Poses of Yoga is illustrated by Chris Macivor, who has been involved in creating digital content for over a decade.  A graduate of Sheridan College and Seneca College among others, Chris brings to life these books of Hatha Yoga through illustrations he has digitally reproduced -what Chris calls “the biomechanical perfection of the human body.”

From the inside…out

As the companion to the first book, The Key Poses of Yoga now turns to the Asanas themselves and reveals the wisdom and workings of each specific pose.  Hatha Yoga is ultimately about control and mastery of the body, as the book points out – in order to ultimately gain control of the mind.  The inside-out (literally) knowledge this book provides will serve to help you reclaim the inherent wisdom within yourself by bringing you closer to your body than ever before.

In addition to specific poses, The Key Poses of Yoga includes additional chapters on hip opening, forward and back bends, as well as twisting motions and others still.  There are two full appendices referencing individual joint movement, muscle and bone names and location within the body.  Teacher, student and home practitioner alike can benefit by becoming more aware and mindful of the function of their muscles through this book.  Both The Key Muscles of Yoga and The Key Poses of Yoga deserve a full Yin YangYin YangYin YangYin YangYin Yang!

Parting words

As it turned out, the duality of these two books as far as my perception that they may unwittingly remove focus from what is truly important in Yoga belonged exactly where I said it would – with me.  Another of Life’s little lessons on the subject of preconceptions and their dangers, and for that I am grateful.  Both of these books have drawn my attention deeper within me during practice through recalling the images and then visualizing that particular muscle or tendon and its movement during a pose.

And let’s face it; looking at pictures is always more fun!

Book Info

The Key Poses of Yoga: Scientific Keys, Volume II

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bandha Yoga; 1 edition (November 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607432390
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607432395

The Key Muscles of Yoga: Scientific Keys, Volume I

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Bandha Yoga; 3 edition (November 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781607432388
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607432388

0 thoughts on “The Anatomy of Yoga”

  1. For me, anatomy language is far harder than Sanskrit! 🙂 As a yoga instructor, these two books have been very important to my base of knowledge, especially for the safety factors involved in moving/bending physically.

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