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July 5, 2020

Why Anatomy is Not “Just” About Anatomy

One of the questions we receive occasionally about the Yoga Anatomy Academy Online Yoga Anatomy mentorship is: “Is this mentorship just about anatomy, or do you also talk about things like biomechanics [or kinesiology, physiology, etc] ?”

The answer is we talk about all the things. We do not talk and teach ‘only’ about anatomy.

It’s just that we think “Yoga Anatomy Academy” sounds catchier than “Yoga Anatomy, Biomechanics and Physiology, Etc. Academy”.

It’s all about context

We teach about (what we will call) “anatomy-plus” in the context of yoga.

Yoga transcends many different subject areas. As you know, the practice of yoga can influence our physiology, our mental and emotional states, and certainly interacts with our anatomy. Yoga is an interdisciplinary art and science and cannot be reduced to a single narrow subject without losing its yoga-ness.

Defining anatomy

Technically anatomy refers to (from Oxford dictionary):

a·nat·o·my/əˈnadəmē/

  1. 1.the branch of science concerned with the bodily structure of humans, animals, and other living organisms, especially as revealed by dissection and the separation of parts.
  2. 2.a study of the structure or internal workings of something.

Memorization of parts and structure is both boring and has very little tie-in to the complex entity that is yoga.

Interdisciplinary & Intersectional

Anatomy studies are a part of the nuanced science that is biology. Anatomy is a cross-disciplinary science that interacts and overlaps with medicine, physiology, ecology, nutrition, and almost every other biology subject as well as non-biological subjects like architecture and engineering.

We consider yoga anatomy, in particular, to be endlessly intersectional.

By intersectional, we mean — just like the science of anatomy overlaps with other sciences — your personal anatomy cannot be fully de-tangled from your life circumstances.

Your experience of yoga anatomy will be inherently tied to your experience of and access to:

  • yoga, wellness, your body size, your gender or gender identity, the state of your nervous system, and to your broader lived experience, which includes your race and injuries you may have experienced.

Fundamentally, yoga anatomy is cross-disciplinary and intersectional.

This is one of our core tenants at Yoga Anatomy Academy, and we do not shy away from these subjects.

Let’s talk anatomy of Fascia

Take a look at one anatomic structure to see how this plays out.

Fascia is an anatomic structure. It can be seen with the naked eye. Fascia can be palpated. In addition to its interesting anatomic implications, it also serves:

  • a biomechanical role via force transmission,
  • a role in immune modulation, via
  • a role in pain perception and injury repair
  • a likely role in other nervous system modulation

In teaching our (very highly recommended) online course, Way of the Happy Fascia, we teach the yoga-complimentary practice of fascia release, body part by body part.

We discuss the anatomy of fascia (the structure). And we teach the implications of fascia for your asana practice, your body’s biomechanics, pain relief. We also give particular emphasis to how the techniques we are teaching impact your nervous system.

Systems thinking

Our world needs systems thinking. Our yoga world need systems thinking.

Yoga Anatomy Academy is a systems-thinking entity. You will not find us making claims like “Do this one yoga pose to cure your headaches”. Because your headaches are probably cross-system, and intersectional. They were not caused by a pose, and — despite the click-bait headline — are rarely able to be reduced to a cure-all pose or sequence.

If you experience headaches, they likely relate to your life circumstances (stress), and/or your hormones (endocrine system), your genetics, your diet and more.

Lived Experience Matters

When we talk anatomy in our mentorship and our blog posts and our other online courses, we talk about the lived experience of the anatomy of real humans.

Yes, that includes physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, other movement sciences. It includes structure, and function. It is whatever you as a student or teacher of yoga need to know to feel confident in your body and in your teaching, to avoid injury or injuring others and more.

Our foundation

Finally, it may be helpful to know that Yoga Anatomy Academy was founded by me – a doctor of physical therapy and practicing physical therapist. (I also run the mentorship.)

Physical therapy, or physiotherapy outside of the US, is an interdisciplinary medical practice. Physical therapists need great body mechanics, we must study physics, cell biology, we have a year of psychology in our pre-requisites, and typically spend months dissecting in a cadaver lab.

In our studies we look at every system of the body to become adept at wound care, cardiovascular monitoring, neurology, and of course the function of our patients. Humans come to us seeking a higher quality life and body experience. They don’t care if we can name every anatomic structure, nor do your yoga students. Physiotherapy practice, like yoga, is a cross-disciplinary point of view that is embedded in Yoga Anatomy Academy from the jump.

What we offer is never about “just anatomy”.

For a fun and related throw-back, see our Yoga Anatomy to the People Manifesto.

P.S. Interested in learning more? After a long pause (to make it even better), our Online Yoga Anatomy mentorship is OPEN FOR ENROLLMENT and it’s on sale through Tuesday July 7th.

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