Reading Kaminoff’s ‘Yoga Anatomy’

kaminoffI’ve started reading Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy again. I hope now that I understand a bit more overall about yoga I’ll be able to get more benefit from it compared to a bewildering first perusal. I’m still in the front-matter and loving their notion of the body as laboratory for the exploration of what it means to be human and the interpretation of Patanjali’s niyamas in the context of asana practice:

“Yoga speaks of getting at something deep inside of use — the true self. The goal of this quest is often stated in mystical terms, implying that our true selves exist on some nonmaterial plane. This book takes the opposing stand that in order to go deeply inside ourselves, we must journey within our physical bodies. Once there, we will not only understand our anatomy but also directly experience the reality that gives rise to the core concepts of yoga. This is a truly embodied experience of spirituality. We make a clear distinction between mystical (the claim to the perception of a supernatural reality experienced by some extrasensory means) and spiritual (from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath, the animating, sensitive, or vital principle of the individual)…

The ancient teachings we’ve inherited were developed through the enlightened observation of life in all its forms and expressions. The skilful observation of humans gave rise to the possibility of yoga practice (kriya yoga) classically formulated by Patanjali and restated by Reinhold Niebuhr in his famous serenity prayer [“Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed, courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other”]. Within this practice we orient our attitudes toward the discernment (swadhyaya) to distinguish the things we can change (tapah) from the things we cannot change (isvara pranidhana).

exray skeletonIsn’t this a prime motivation to study anatomy in the context of yoga? We want to know what’s inside of us so we can understand why some things are relatively easy to change and other seem so difficult. How much energy should we devote to working through our own resistance? When should we work on surrendering to something that’s not likely to change? Both require effort. Surrender is an act of will. These are never-ending questions with answers that seem to change every day — precisely why we should never stop posing them.”

kaminoff spreadQuestions with no answers? Now that’s a challenge for an anatomy book! I’m looking forward to dipping into their explanations of particular asanas.

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7 thoughts on “Reading Kaminoff’s ‘Yoga Anatomy’

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  1. Was just reading this today! I bought it, read a few pages and put it away. Then picked it up today after a while and read a couple of pages. I wanted to understand the mechanics of the body as I explore running and yoga but looks like this one is going to be a book to chew on a little at a time.


  2. Sounds like a great yoga anatomy book, and definitely worth looking into. I recently bought Functional Anatomy of Yoga by David Keil which I keep reading bits of as and when I can. I tried reading it all in one go but it was hard work! I think I need I need an actual person to explain the ins and outs of it all! It’ll probably all make more sense when I eventually do my yoga teacher training. 😀


    1. I saw Keil’s book the other day at a studio I visited. I’m thinking about buying it too to help my budding anatomy nerdness. I’d be interested to hear what you most got from it. Thanks for the comment, Suzy.


  3. Kaminoff’s book is good. I actually own a copy in each of our official languages (Fre & Eng). But the anatomy books that REALLY blew me away are Ray Long’s… amazing!


    1. Interesting! I have a couple of those too, but similarly I haven’t got on so well with them yet. They’re next on the list to return to also. I think I just acquired them too soon in my practice that it was all too much to take on. My only anatomy training was archaeological, so muscles are still a bit of a mystery! Do you teach in both languages I wonder?


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