As the practice of yoga involves both spiritual and physical aspects, the anatomy of yoga teaches yogis about physical alignment and which muscles are involved in each yoga pose. When yogis have a fundamental alignment of each bone and muscle which are used in yoga postures, they can begin to develop a better practice of addressing weaknesses, imbalances, and strengths. Passed from teacher to student, the concept of the anatomy of yoga is a fundamental part of growing yoga practice. Having a solid understanding of the anatomy of yoga is empowering and helpful, whether a yogi chooses yoga for enlightenment or recovery from an injury.
Knowledge about what your body is doing with each yoga pose makes it easier to overcome weaknesses, recover from and prevent injury, deepen your practice and master some advanced postures. Getting to know about the muscular engagement and anatomical alignment also makes the practitioner realise their natural limits and separate them from what they think their body limits are. For more information take a look at our Yoga Anatomy Chart.
Yoga anatomy points that every yoga teacher should know:
Here are some key aspects of anatomy and yoga:
• Major movements of the body: Yoga connects movements to breathing, and to understand it anatomically, we need an understanding of the planes of the body and how moving different body parts creates certain actions such as flexion, extension, internal rotation, and external rotation.
• Major bones of the body: There are 206 bones in a human body, and while memorising each one of them may not be necessary, understanding the basics is helpful in yoga. Certain bones take part in specific actions, and knowing them is helpful, especially when reviewing the origin, insertion, and movement of major muscles.
• Major muscles of the body: This is one of the most difficult topics and challenging to master, so to begin, start with body parts, like “the trunk,” or “shoulder,” and “hip,” and study the muscles in those areas.
• Major joints of the body: Yoga is all about movements, and joints are what make movement between two bones possible. Understanding the bones and the joints in certain parts of the body has significant implications for knowing the kind of movement that is safe and accessible, especially depending on a practitioner’s knowledge, degree of strength, and flexibility.
• The spine’s structure, composition, and function: Understanding the spine’s composition, function, and surrounding muscles can help you practice certain poses and also create custom postures if you are suffering from back pain, injury, or chronic conditions. The spine is the body’s central axis, so start with its physical structure, working, and movements.
• Alignments that could put the body at risk: After you’ve mastered the basic components of the body and its movements and have reviewed key poses, you can move forward to know the movements and positions that can put the body at risk. For instance, flexion and extension are healthier movements at the knee joint as a hinge joint than internal or external rotation, which is not possible at this joint.
What are the benefits of yoga, and how does it modify your body?
Yoga enhances all of the systems in the body, such as skeletal, muscular, skin, circulatory, nervous, digestive, respiratory, endocrine, elimination, and reproductive. Some of the changes and modifications that yoga causes in your body are as follows,
• Improved Strength & Muscle Tone: Yoga strengthens and flexes every muscle in the body and increases muscle tone.
• Greater Flexibility: Keeping your joints, tendons, and muscles flexible and mobile is essential for avoiding injuries and decreasing pain and tension in your body. Greater flexibility also improves body alignment, creates better posture, and lessens joint pain.
• Besides these, yoga decreases stress, relaxes tight muscles, and brings the body into balance. These benefits help you sleep better, result in reduced fatigue and increase your overall energy levels.
• Yoga also helps maintain better balance as it utilises various muscles and movements that promote balance in your body. This physical balance also increases your stability and coordination, which helps reduce the risk of injury in your body.
• Other benefits of yoga may include better digestion & weight management, relief from pains (e.g. back pain, headache), better bone density, improved strength, a healthy cardiovascular system, and good respiratory health. Yoga also strengthens your immune system and improves the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system. The mental benefits of yoga are also well known, as it helps relax and manage stress while increasing one’s ability to focus and concentrate.