How do you learn what is happening to the body during yoga postures? In recent years a flurry of new books has come out to help yoga teachers and students understand and visualize the dynamics and effects of each yoga posture. Perhaps the clearest and most concise is Yoga Anatomy, by Leslie Kaminoff .
Some 30 pages of introduction cover essential concepts, including the basic unit of life, the cell, the dynamics of breathing, and the spine. There is an effortless integration of such ancient concepts as prana and apana, with succinct explanations of, for example, muscles involved in respiration. This should be essential reading for anyone who sets out to teach yoga!
The rest of the book looks at specific postures (asanas), and provides definitive descriptions of which structures of the body are involved, which muscles are working or being stretched, how the breath is affected, which joints are in action, what obstacles a practitioner might encounter in this posture, benefits or contra-indications, and other notes of interest.
Accompanying each asana are distinctive illustrations. Each drawing, based on photography, highlights the structures and muscles featured in the posture. Neither garish nor obscure, the illustrations are a powerful complement.
The only criticism I have is: not enough! There are so many asanas, I look forward to further volumes from Kaminoff to address more postures with this same approach.
In short, this book has found a place on my bookshelf beside Iyengar’s Light on Yoga as a definitive reference, that I will reach for many times in the coming years, whenever I need to clarify my understanding of a yoga asana.