I’ve done a bit of moaning about anatomy lately as I struggled through my homework outlining all the bones, joints, and muscles in the shoulder and pelvic girdles (and trust me, there are a lot of them!). It’s like learning a whole new language. But the main thing I’m learning is how amazing our bodies are. Here are my top 4 reasons to be excited about anatomy.
- Our bodies are amazing – but no one ever teaches us that at school
Although I studied natural sciences at school and university, anatomy and physiology never interested me all that much. They seemed a bit dry with too many lists and labels. Yet all of a sudden they are fascinating to me, and all those lists and labels have a purpose. Studying how our bodies move and function in the context of doing and understanding yoga is making me realise just how amazing we are as physical beings. I’m starting to wonder why my curiosity hasn’t been awakened before now, and I get the feeling that if we were all taught anatomy in an applied, moving, physical way as children we’d be a much healthier population.
- Understanding your body can help develop your yoga practice
For me, yoga has always been about making me healthier in body and mind. But I’d not taken it that step further to use yoga as a vehicle for understanding how my body works. Now that I’m beginning to understand the actions and locations of different muscles in my body I can start to identify which muscles are active in each yoga pose, and which ones carry tension or are weaker than others. This will help me develop my yoga practice through giving me knowledge about which areas I need to work on to create balance in my body, and how to avoid injury in the process. There’s also the whole other side of why yoga works too, which is to do with prana (energy/breath/life-force), meditation, and nadis (energy lines) but that’s a subject for another blog post!
- Healthy choices become the obvious choices
The more sensitive I become to how my body feels and the more knowledgeable I become about how and why I move in a certain way, the more likely I am to reach for an apple rather than a chocolate bar, or to take breaks from the computer rather than sitting at my desk all day long. Understanding the anatomy and physiology that underpins my yoga practice is making me value my body a lot more. I’m quite excited about the potential to support people with this as a yoga teacher, although I’d never quite thought about yoga teaching in that way before.
- Match your health-span to your life-span
We’re all living longer so the incentive to look after our health is greater than ever. While there are certainly aspects of ageing and disease we can’t control, anatomy and physiology tell us that ill health and pain in later life are not inevitable. Yoga can help us to maintain strength, flexibility, and balance so that by the time we’re 70 we can still get out of a chair without heaving ourselves up with our arms, and stay on our feet through maintaining an awareness of where our bodies are in space. If we understand what we’re physically capable of, then we can help our bodies to support us through to later life.
I have to admit that all this does not make learning about all the many many bones, joints, and muscles any easier or any less overwhelming. But it does make it more enjoyable…especially if I am accompanied by a glass of red wine (in case you thought I was getting too high and mighty about healthy choices!).