Yoga anatomy is an essential part of Yoga Teacher Trainings curriculum, but I believe that any serious practitioner should take a closer look at this discipline. Many of us without specialised education lack even basic knowledge of human anatomy.
Understanding of anatomy in yoga asanas can help not only make your practice safer and avoid injuries, but also take advantage of therapeutic side of yoga.
My main motivation to deepen my knowledge in yoga anatomy was my family. When they asked to “teach them yoga” and shared specific problems in their bodies, I felt that a proper understanding of body dynamics would let me help them better.
Of course nothing will replace real time spent with the right teacher, learning about anatomy and adjustments first-hand, but sometimes it is just not possible. Moreover an advantage of an online class is the accessibility of materials (some even offer live-time access), so you can turn to it any time. I took a live anatomy class with Akash in Mysore , but I should admit that my absolute lack of basic anatomy knowledge made it almost impossible for me to comprehend and retain newly acquired knowledge.
I spent a tremendous amount of time looking for suitable resources, courses and books on yoga anatomy, that are available online or remotely. I thought I’d share it with you – you can decide for yourself which format works best for you. About most of the programs and tools on the list I heard personal recommendations. If you think I missed something – please do let me know, and I’ll gladly add it!
Before getting into technicalities of yoga anatomy you can also first take a class on general human anatomy basics, that targets absolute beginners, and it only costs $20. You can also take Easy Anatomy and Physiology (Platinum Edition) to build your basic terminology and understand the physiology of human body systems (price $30).
1) David Keil’s courses on yoganatomy.com
David Keil, whose materials are praised in a yoga community, offers classes, articles, books and plenty of useful resources on yoga anatomy on his website. His online classes include very specific workshops like “How to Practice and Teach Lotus” ($45), the Basics of Applied Anatomy Course ($59), as well as anatomy courses that were created specifically for Teachers Trainings ($55-$75), each with 60-120 minutes of video. His book Functional Anatomy of Yoga: A Guide for Practitioners and Teachers is probably one of the most read on the subject, and his newsletter is absolutely excellent.
2) Course with Leslie Kaminoff
I’ve been a subscriber of Leslie Kaminoff’s newsletter for a couple of years and I still open it almost every week. His online anatomy course was the first I ever found but the price (which at that time was a few thousand dollars) put me away. I’m not sure if he is still offering it, but he is teaching regular workshops in the US and his book Yoga Anatomy-2nd Edition is praised by many practitioners.
3) Online anatomy classes at Kirk Yoga
Martin Kirk, a yoga teacher who is also a biomechanic therapeutic specialist, offers four online courses: Anatomy Fundamentals, Therapeutic Essentials, Therapeutic Biomechanics of Healing and Advanced Anatomy. Each consists of 10 sessions and costs $298.
Stuart Girling is a bodyworker specializing in the treatment of yogis with injuries or tension patterns. His website Love Yoga Anatomy is a great resource on its own, including a fantastic collection of videos (150+) on his You Tube Channel, where he features many well-known teachers and praticioners. He offers an interactive PDF (created together with David Robson) and plans to release an all-round anatomy online course in spring 2017, at a price of $199.
5) Yogamaze online anatomy classes
Yogamaze offers a series of online yoga anatomy classes, including Anatomy 101, Low Back Basics, Si Joint Dysfunction, Anatomy 202, Anatomy Primer, Art of Adjustments, Asanatomy and Scoliosis Clinic. Each class consists of 4-8 sessions and costs around $140-$160.
6) Yoga Anatomy classes on Udemy
Sadie Nardini and Tyler McCoy teach two classes on Udemy: Total Transformation Yoga Teacher Training: Anatomy & Flow! and The Revolution Yoga Anatomy Teacher Training Course. Each course includes 12-16 hours of instruction and comes at $195. All the courses yield excellent reviews, with occasional critique of filming and audio quality.
7) Yoga Functional Anatomy Tool
Not a course, but rather a tool that would be most useful for teachers – a software that displays detailed body movement (i.e. muscles etc.) during asanas in 3D format.
This course also targets mostly teachers and includes 120 hours that can be completed either within 3 or 6 months. The course is credited with Yoga Australia and is worth 60 CEP points.
ASFYT runs live study sessions, but also offers a Home Study course for those who want to do it remotely. The course includes 50 hours of video, lecture notes, audio files from live classes etc., and you’ll have to pass an exam at the end. The program consists of three courses (Skeletal Anatomy, Muscle Anatomy, Kinesiology, each for the price of $450).
The online course offered by American Yoga School is divided into 32 detailed lecture-style lessons, including injury management and prevention; and modifications for pregnancy. The course costs $175.
Many teachers refer to Bandha Yoga as an outstanding resource with 3D anatomy illustrations. They have series of excellent books, that form no less than an encyclopedia of yoga anatomy. They are divided into Standing Poses, Forward Bends and Hip Openers, Backbends and Twists, Arm Balances and Inversions, The Key Muscles of Yoga. They also offer free ebooks to start off .
This is a rather specific class, but it can be relevant to some practitioners, as it focuses on shoulders (a problem zone for many) and chaturangas (plank pose). Includes 2.5 hours of videos and comes at $50.
13) Books on Yoga Anatomy
If you are up to slightly heavier and more in-depth reading, two more books that are worth looking into are “Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers, and Practitioners” by Coulter H. David and “Your Body, Your Yoga: Learn Alignment Cues That Are Skillful, Safe, and Best Suited To You” by Bernie Clark.
I’ve also heard that some experienced teachers can offer you in-person session on skype, for example, so that also can be a great option if you can’t make it to alive training . And of course the full benefit of yoga anatomy knowledge can only be coupled with years of practical experience – but we all get to start somewhere, right?