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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 84-85
Yoga Anatomy (2 nd Edition)

Division of Yoga and Life Sciences, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

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Date of Web Publication23-Dec-2013

How to cite this article:
Manjunath N K. Yoga Anatomy (2 nd Edition). Int J Yoga 2014;7:84-5

How to cite this URL:
Manjunath N K. Yoga Anatomy (2 nd Edition). Int J Yoga [serial online] 2014 [cited 2023 Mar 21];7:84-5. Available from:

Authors: Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews

Year: 2012

Publisher: Human Kinetics, IL, USA

Yoga Anatomy (2 nd Edition) is certainly an improvised version of the 1 st Edition, published by Human Kinetics in 2007 and makes a major contribution to the science of yoga.

This book is an excellent illustrative manual for yoga instructors and therapists to better their understanding about the musculoskeletal system in relation to the practice of yoga asanas (physical postures).

Authored by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews, the new version of the "Yoga Anatomy" is divided into 11 chapters. The 1 st chapter is a value addition as it deals with the dynamics of breathing, which plays a major role in the practice of yoga asanas. This chapter describes not only the anatomical structures involved in respiration, but also relates it to the concept of breath as per yoga philosophy.

Chapter 2-5 summarizes the musculoskeletal system with a special emphasis on the spine. A dedicated chapter on spine appears to be important as majority of postures involve spinal movements in some form. Since spinal flexibility determines an individual's ability to perform a particular posture, the fundamental principles governing spinal motion including axial rotation described in this chapter would help the reader to apply and demonstrate better results in yoga students.

The authors have clarified an important point by beginning the introduction with a sentence: "this book is by no means an exhaustive study of human Anatomy or the vast science of yoga." Accordingly, chapters 3 and 4 describe only the relevant anatomical structures of the muscular and skeletal systems and review the main principles of their functioning. Perhaps, these are the most simplified chapters on the above said systems one would get to refer. It can be assumed that since joints play a pivotal role in the formation of a yoga posture, authors have focused primarily on describing different types of joints and their possible actions in the chapter on skeletal system. The chapter on muscular system deals mainly with structure and function of a muscle fiber, while the details of different muscle groups are well-presented later under the chapters describing different postures.

The fifth chapter on "inside the asanas" appears to be an essential thread connecting the above two chapters with the rest of the chapters in the book. This can also be considered as the second introduction as it prepares the reader with the basics required to understand the chapters 6-11.

Further, the chapter headings (6-11) are self-explanatory and indicate the proposed classification of asanas i.e. standing, sitting, kneeling, supine and prone and arm support poses.

Under these chapters, each asana is presented with its Sanskrit name and its translated English name with an additional descriptive text clarifying the meaning or context of the posture's name. In addition to the above-mentioned major classification, the postures are also classified by their symmetry, base of support and general action.

The beauty of these chapters is the illustrated anatomy (muscular system in particular) related to each pose. Medical illustrator Sharon Ellis has done a fantastic job in producing photo-realistic drawings of the anatomical structure (bones, muscles and organs) involved in each pose. The add-on notes and the breathing tips under each posture demonstrate the care taken by the authors in presenting the minute details related to each posture. This can also help the readers in understanding the need for generally adopted variations in many asanas.

The asanas covered include both basic set as well as few advanced postures. In addition to presenting an asana index both in Sanskrit and English, the new appendices include Joint and Muscle Indexes as well.

In summary, the authors have succeeded in illustrating how specific muscles respond to the movements of the joints, how alterations in an asana can enhance or reduce the effectiveness and how the spine, breathing and body position are all fundamentally linked.

Correspondence Address:
N K Manjunath
Division of Yoga and Life Sciences, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bengaluru, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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