Why do we need to study the anatomy of muscle in yoga?

After one year of practicing yoga, I never knew that in order to master and teach yoga, I would have to understand how muscle works, its functions and its names. By knowing all these, I now know that which part of the body muscles do need to strengthen and work on in order to perform a certain yoga pose. For example, in order to perform lower plank pose (chaturanga), one needs to engage his / her pectoris muscle (chest), tricep brachii muslce (upper arm), trapezius muscle (shoulder), transverses abdominis (core) and also the gluteus maximus muscle (hips). With this understanding, I would be able to plan a class that aims to enhance and strengthen muscles within each muscle group.

My first lesson in the anatomy muscle was horrible, I did not imagine that the human body has around 650 different muscles. Now try to imagine how many different types of muscles we are using when we are walking? By understanding all these muscle parts, we know which muscle to use when doing a certain pose. For example, pincha mayurasana, the forearm stand.  Now I know that I need to ground my palms,  adduct my shoulder and away from ear, , squaring my hips, utilizing my core and left leg muscle to lift and maintain my right legs up to the air.

As a yoga teacher, knowing all these terms can help me to relate to what the students are doing wrong and make adjustments based on their anatomical structure. If a student feels back pain after a backbend, I can explain that he/she might use the lower back to bend instead of using the upper back. Additionally I can instruct him/ her to do a restorative pose such as child pose to relax the spine.

 

Carrie.