Why You Should Know Your Muscles

September 18, 2019
Why You Should Know Your Muscles

Benefits of learning the attachments and actions of muscles

Have you ever had that feeling that you should know your 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.

coracoid process of the scapula

What does it mean to know your muscles?

Kinesiology is the study of muscles, where they attach (called the origin and insertion often shown in red for origin as above, and in blue for insertions), 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, that’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.

the biceps muscle

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Applying kinesiology

Once you learn that information, you will always have it available to use as you try to figure out questions such as:

  • Which muscles are engaging when I do x posture?
  • Which muscles are lengthening when I do x posture?
  • What is restricting me from doing x movement?
  • Which muscles 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.


Overall, learning the muscles of the body can make us much more confident in what we say and how we speak about the body. If you know your muscles, this benefits everyone you teach. This is exactly why I have spent the last five years putting together a course for anyone who wants to learn the main muscles of the human body. I’ve launched it on a new website called 3dMuscleLab.com.

Learn all of your muscles
go to 3d muscle lab