Benefits of learning the attachments and actions of muscles
It’s normal to have that nagging thought as a yoga teacher or practitioner, “I should really know more anatomy!” Thankfully you don’t need to learn it all at once, and of course, as you roll through yoganatomy.com, you’ll pick up tidbits along the way. To be honest, that can work. Little by little, you can pick up the anatomy that you need. Sometimes, though, it’s good to lay down a foundation and know your muscles, which is what I did when I first learned kinesiology.
Kinesiology is the study of muscles, where they attach (called the origin and insertion), and what action they do. For me, that knowledge has been the basis of all the additional functional anatomy that I have learned since. Whenever I come across more complex anatomical principles, I can essentially cross reference those with that foundation of information that I already have. Because I memorized the muscles, where they attach, and what actions they do, it’s always in the mix of stuff going on in my mind as I read and learn new things. That foundation of information, doesn’t change.
Once you learn that information, you will always have it available to use as you try to figure out questions such as:
- What muscles are engaging when I do x posture?
- What muscles are lengthening when I do x posture?
- What is restricting me from doing x movement?
- What do I need to strengthen?
These types of questions are common when we start to learn about our yoga practice and when we teach others how to safely and effectively practice. With an understanding of basic muscle function we can much more easily deconstruct what’s going on in a posture. If you know your muscles, you can also use that knowledge to potentially figure out what can be done to keep that posture moving in its own process of development. You can read my short post on How I Use The Knowledge Of Muscles To Help Students.
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David explains why the key to lowering into chaturanga is doing two things at once: maintaining an active serratus anterior and relaxing the triceps and deltoids.