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Yoga Anatomy

Anatomy determines your yoga pose

Why does the girl next to you simple drops back in upward bow, while you can’t hold that pose for even two breaths and everything hurts when you are doing it? Why does everybody around you complains that they have so much pain in lotus, where it is for you the easiest pose there is. You can even put your legs in your neck, without a drop of sweat. The answer is simple: Anatomy determines your yoga pose. It all has to do with the way we are build. 

We talk a lot about emotions in yoga and a lot about emotional blockages, coming from old, unresolved emotions. That does play a big part, but at the same time, we are all built differently. We have a natural flexibility in our muscles or not. We have a natural length in our muscles or not. That makes a huge difference in yoga. Some people do an abdominal workout for a week and will have a six pack. Others will do the same workout, but you won’t see a thing after a week, after a month or even after three months. They just have a different combination of muscle fibers. 

Some people are just built to be a sprinter, others are built to be a marathon runner. Changing that ‘destination’ can be very disappointing. It’s genetically determined. The trick is to work with what you have. And that brings us back to yoga. As I wrote before, there is no picture perfect in yoga; simply because of this. We can’t compare our bodies. Our skeletal system is different, our muscles are different. That’s why the best thing you can do in yoga is focusing on you; on your own mat. Don’t look at others, just feel how your body is reacting on all the stretches.

I’m a bit of an anatomy freak. When I started doing yoga, I was amazed how my body was able to adjust, although I was already 35 years old when I walked into my first class. I’ve always been a soccer player and a long distance runner and – partly because of that – I had extreme short hamstrings. When I would bend forward I was able to touch my knees: with a bit of effort. By now my hands reach the floor.

I decided I wanted to know more and studied Sports massage. That only made my curiosity bigger and I went on to study massage therapy. Most of my classmates really hated the anatomy and physiology classes; I loved them. I couldn’t get enough.

At this moment I teach anatomy around the world: workshops and as part of yoga teacher training courses and yoga retreats. I think knowing how your body is built, gives you a better inside how to move it and also makes you understand why you are struggling with forward bends, where the person next to you squeezes their nose against their shins. It makes you able to let ‘go’ and stop comparing.

If you like to know more as well, or if you are struggling with certain poses, just follow this blog. I will write more about anatomy in the near future. Or just join me for one of my anatomy workshops when I’m around. Don’t worry: I keep it very simple.

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