Books on the Asanas

Knowing what’s going on in a pose is still a work in progress for me. Though I learned to queue the typical poses used in a yoga practice and can sequence fairly well, I still struggle with remembering all the exact benefits of the asanas, the Sanskrit names, and the contraindications. I’ve never taken anatomy and am honestly not the greatest with those parts of it.

In the world of yoga, I may not be able to give you a good workout or get you in touch with the spiritual side, but I can definitely relax you and clear out the clutter in your head. That’s been the most beneficial part about yoga for me, although the workout is still pretty fair.

Nevertheless, I’m the kind of person that likes to know more about a subject of interest all the time and these are the anatomy of asana books that I’ve been using. One book is the Anatomy of Fitness: Yoga by Goldie Karpel Oren and the other is Science of Yoga by Ann Swanson. I intend to get some more, but haven’t quite gotten through these books yet. I do also use Namaslay sometimes too. It’s part memoir of Candace Moore and part asana study. There’s a lot of good stuff in there, but it’s from an instructor perspective and doesn’t dive too deeply into anatomy. Not as much as I’m currently interested in at least.

I started working on the note cards last Fall and kinda stopped over the Winter with some other things going on and coming out of hiatus. They were a big help and I honestly need to get back to them. I have everything out of Science of Yoga that I was looking for at the time on the cards and was working on memorizing them. I just have to add Anatomy of Fitness: Yoga notes to them now.

I love the therapeutic effects of yoga and I sometimes debate on making yoga therapy a second career. As it is, I get a lot of questions from the guys at work about what I think is a good stretch for this or that ailment that they have. For that, I turn to these books. It’s a reminder that though yoga is so much more than asana, asana really is an important part of it all.

These detailed breakdowns are my favorite parts of both books. Anatomy of Fitness: Yoga has a lot of information about the muscle groups and what’s getting worked. There’s great detail on how to get into the asanas too. It opens with an explanation of yoga and why it’s good to do, along with an introduction on breath exercises, mudras, and nutrition to maximize your home practice.

Science of Yoga adds in which muscles are engaged in each asana as well as which are getting stretched and which are doing both. There are alignment queues and little tips on when to do some of the asanas. It opens with a lot of information on anatomy, like a breakdown of each of the major systems in our body, and then has a great Q&A at the back.

I could honestly do with reading both once a year, just to refresh, on top of having the asana information memorized. Though I’m a certified instructor, I’m not practiced at instructing, so I’m still working through being able to talk about the poses and benefits and variations while doing them. I learned a lot about all of that in class, as well as some great sequencing, but it’s the talking that messes me up, as it has with everything else in life. Well, and a fear that I’m going to give someone something to do one day that they can’t do and hurt them.

As it is, my son and some coworkers are usually the only people joining me in practice so far. I took the class thinking I’d be an instructor and I’m still not sure that’s the right path for me. Learning about something I’m this passionate about isn’t a waste, though. The information I learned in the instructor class is still useful in almost every practice, whether I have company or not. Enough so that I’m trying to take the RYT300 even if I don’t teach.

2 thoughts on “Books on the Asanas

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  1. Heather,
    Wonderful post! I am a 200 RYT myself, and I can totally relate to many points you discussedt. Esp. when it comes to the anxiety of teaching. It’s one things to be knowledgeable in the asanas, sequecning, and alignment. However, it’s a whole different skill to be able to cultivate all of these things while teaching a class. I just got my certification in Febuary so the thought of teaching is nerve-racking, but even my experienced yoga professors shared with us some of the humbling “horror” teaching stories when they first started. Point being, we all will make mistakes at first but with dedication and time one can succeed as they gain more expereince. We just have to go out there and do it!
    The books you recommended sound wonderful, and I am going to check them out! I love the idea of writing flashcards to help you remember all of the information. There is so much that it can be overwhelming at times. I am currently am a full time traveler- so I am going to see if these is an online version of the books as well as flashcards.
    Lastly, as you said yoga is so much more than the physical practice of asanas. It is a lifestyle that incorporates all aspects of your mind, body, and soul. I am so fortunate to have found yoga, it has changed my life. I wish you the best with your future endevors and look forward to seeing more posts from you! I have a blog in which I have used to discuss my travels. However, I now plain to start writing more things relating to yoga and holistic health. I’d love for you to check it out and maybe in the future we could collaborate together!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’ve been enjoying writing about yoga and look forward to seeing your posts on it too! Either way, yoga has totally changed my life and I find myself wanting to share it with people often. I’ve made a few videos for my mom to help her do a little exercise as she gets to active from a fairly sedentary existence as well sessions with friends and coworkers who needed some help. I hadn’t previously considered, but realize too that it’s different when it’s people that know you in another way. For now, I work in a fairly aggressive, sometimes toxic environment and it’s hard to get yoga vulnerable and then have to go back to that. I have plans to leave that job at the end of the year. That’s when I had been planning on getting into instructing as a job but I’m sure I’ll be nervous until then.


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