3 Reasons To Make This Book A Part Of Your Library Today
Anatomy seems to be one of the less favorite subjects of becoming Yoga teachers. One of the main reasons might be that the field of anatomy has quite high access barriers, meaning it takes a considerable amount of initial effort and studying before you are able to enjoy the benefits of using anatomy in your practice and teaching of Yoga.
Without first learning all the technical terms, the latin vocabulary for muscles and bones, but also locations (e.g. distal, dorsal) and movements (e.g. supination, pronation), reading a normal anatomy book may confuse rather than teaching you anything about your practice.
I do understand the need for a precise terminology. But I would love it, if more students and teachers of Yoga could get excited about and benefit more from a deep understanding of the human body. And anatomical knowledge is a great base and tool to explore your own and your student’s practice, the physical limitations, pains and injuries as well as the potentials.
When I first heard about David Keil coming out with a book on anatomy, I got curious and excited as I already love his articles on http://www.yoganatomy.com/. And since his background is in Ashtanga Yoga, I was hoping to see many typical Ashtanga-related topics covered.
And I am excited to say that the book is an amazing blend of approachable science, practical advice, step-by-step guide to various anatomical topics as well as typical challenges, and written in an easy to follow conversational tone that makes learning about anatomy exciting.
Here are three reasons to make this book a part of your library today:
It covers the whole body including the most frequent challenges for practitioners
The book is made up of two parts:
- Part I explores our body’s anatomy region by region: from foot and ankle, knee, pelvis, spine, hand, wrist and elbow and also looks at the different levels of bones, muscles, nervous system and connective tissue.
- In part II David explores the main groups of asanas, i.e. forward bends, backbends, twists, arm balances and external hip rotations.
While part I takes a certain body part and shows how different asanas work on it, the second part relates different asanas to one another explaining how they work together to open different parts of the body: something that makes sense as asanas are complex and effect and balance the whole body rather than working on one single part of it. Also the development between simpler and more advanced asana is laid out.
What I like especially as an Ashtanga practitioner is that David takes issues we might have in certain asanas, and relates them with patterns that show up in our regular vinyasa movements (i.e. chaturanga dandasana, Up-& down-dog). He then points out how to improve and grow in our practice by focusing on good execution of those Vinyasa movements (and I agree as I pointed out in this article).
And along with covering the whole body, the book also explains how to approach the most frequent challenges that I see in my own and my student’s practices such as
- pains in knee, ankle, lower back and wrists
- working with an injured spine or torn hamstrings
- safely opening your hips for lotus-pose
- Ways of breathing and accessing the bandhas
- jump-back and jump-throughs
- common issues in back bending
The conversational style of writing, supplemented with helpful graphics and pictures makes the book easy to read and comprehend
David doesn’t just tell you how it is and what to do. Rather he invites you to explore for yourself and find your truth. How does he do that? He writes in a very conversational way, almost like being in a workshop: Asking a questions, laying out different answers and alternative ways of looking at the issue at hand and suggesting what might be the best way in a certain situation. That way, the reader learns much more than if he had just given one “correct” way.
This style of writing keeps the reader engaged and thinking along and provides an easy to follow way. Also it suggests a possible way how to present this information to a student if needed.
Anatomical terminology is used, but translations are provided and oftentimes a pictures and graphics give good visual support and show the bones, muscles etc. that are being discussed.
The book offers a very open-minded, non-dogmatic approach to looking at our body and its limitations and urges the reader to consider various aspects over single-cause solutions
This one is hard for me to put into words. While reading through the book, I caught myself nodding along David’s explanations as they were always very thoughtful, considering the many ways, causes and influences why an individual student might have trouble getting into a certain asana.
David offers examples and personal experiences and makes it clear that when we look at a student or ourselves, we shouldn’t just see a body that is bending, but a human being with all the factors that influence our present condition, such as our genetics, activity history, injury history, mental and emotional state, ways of thinking and behaviors that we adopt from our parents and so on.
He writes that when “I make suggestions to my students about their problems, conditions, and restrictions, I offer a working hypothesis. In other words, I make and educated guess.” We have to stay open-minded when working with our students and in our own practice and consider various possibilities. David encourages to explore, come to our own conclusions and use anatomy not for its own sake but as a tool to become a more mindful practitioner and teacher.
I love his mindset that reflects humility towards the practice and amazement about the human body as a whole and encourages to take personal responsibility for the choices we make in our practice and in life.
Why this book might NOT be for you
If you just want to study for an anatomy test, maybe for your teacher training, and just need to memorize the terminology as fast as possible, I wouldn’t recommend this book as it’s not systematically presenting terminology. Books like Anatomy of Movement do this much better. Also, all the discussions and considerations offered in this book for various anatomical aspects don’t help in those exams.
You will still benefit from David’s book, but I just wouldn’t use it for studying.
David has created a book where he shares his vast knowledge and amazement about Yoga practice and invites readers to explore their understanding of anatomy via personal experience.
It becomes obvious that he is not only an expert of anatomy but is a regular practitioner and teacher and seeks to offer guidance that is simple to grasp but still honors the complexity of the human body.
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