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Philosophy & Anatomy

Yoga philosophy is one of the six major orthodox schools of Hinduism. Ancient, medieval and most modern literature often refers to the Yoga school of Hinduism simply as Yoga. It is closely related to the Samkhya school of Hinduism. The Yoga school's systematic studies to better oneself physically, mentally and spiritually has influenced all other schools of Indian philosophy. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a key text of the Yoga school of Hinduism.

The epistemology of the Yoga school of Hinduism, like the Sāmkhya school, relies on three of six Pramanas as the means of gaining reliable knowledge. These include Pratyaksa (perception), Anumana (inference) and Sabda (Aptavacana, word/testimony of reliable sources). The metaphysics of Yoga is built on the same dualist foundation as the Samkhya school. The universe is conceptualized as composed of two realities in the Samhkya-Yoga schools: Purusa (consciousness) and prakriti (matter). Jiva (a living being) is considered as a state in which purusa is bonded to prakriti in some form, in various permutations and combinations of various elements, senses, feelings, activity and mind.

During the state of imbalance or ignorance, one of more constituents overwhelm the others, creating a form of bondage. The end of this bondage is called liberation, or moksha, by both the Yoga and Samkhya schools of Hinduism. The ethical theory of the Yoga school is based on Yamas and Niyama, as well as elements of the Guna theory of Samkhya.

The Yoga school of Hinduism differs from the closely related non-theistic/atheistic Samkhya school by incorporating the concept of a "personal, yet essentially inactive, deity" or "personal god" (Ishvara).

While the Samkhya school suggests that jnana (knowledge) is a sufficient means to moksha, the Yoga school suggests that systematic techniques and practice, or personal experimentation, combined with Samkhya's approach to knowledge, is the path to moksha.

Yoga shares several central ideas with the Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism, with the difference that Yoga philosophy is a form of experimental mysticism, while Advaita Vedanta is a form of monistic personalism. Advaita Vedanta, and other schools of Hinduism, accept, adopt and build upon many of the teachings and techniques of Yoga.

At Prakriti we have detailed lectures on Philosophy of Yoga and one can systematically study Yoga Sutras by Maharishi Patanjali to gain the access to the ancient knowledge of yoga.

Anatomy of Yoga

7 main aspects of human anatomy listed below are taught in our extensive anatomy classes for developing an in depth and detailed understanding of Yoga postures and there effectivity. It also serves when practising therapeutic yoga.

1. Major movements of the body.

Yoga is a practice of connecting movement to breath. "Movement" can be described in various ways, but in order to understand it from an anatomical perspective, we need to know the planes of the body and how moving different body parts creates actions such as flexion, extension, and internal and external rotation. The challenge isn’t in understanding these movements in theory; it’s in applying them to different body parts and poses. Often in one pose, there can be 3 or more actions taking place concurrently.

2. Major bones of the body.

The body is comprised of 206 bones; there are 26 in the foot alone. While it might be your passion to understand and be able to name all 206, it may not be necessary in order for you to develop a baseline of understanding for teaching yoga. Certainly bones in the arms, legs, and torso are essential to know in order to understand the basic structure of the body. Also, knowing the names of the bones will come in handy as you start to review the origin and insertion of the major muscles.

3. Major joints of the body.

We know yoga is a movement-based activity and we know the body is made up of bones and muscles (among other parts). Joints are between bones and understanding the types of joints in each part of the body has significant implications for the kinds of movements that are safe and accessible and the kinds of movements that are more risky, especially depending on a practitioner’s knowledge, degree of strength and flexibility.

There are several types of freely moveable joints (hinge, ball and socket, gliding, ellipsoid, pivot and saddle). At a minimum, it’s helpful to understand each one and to identify some parts of the body where they appear.

4. Major muscles of the body.

This is one of the toughest topics to wean down to just what is “essential." The easiest way to begin? Start with body parts, like “trunk,” or “shoulder,” and “hip,” and examine the muscles in these areas.

5. The structure, composition and function of the spine.

The spine is the central axis of the body and as such, understanding it’s composition, function and surrounding muscles can help you in the presentation of poses as well as creating custom sequencing for students experiencing back pain, injury or chronic conditions. Start with its physical structure (bones, joints and discs) and work outwards (muscles, tendons and ligaments).

6. Muscles in action in essential yoga poses.

Just as we have to start somewhere in order to start our review of muscles and bones, we have to start somewhere when it comes to applying this information to the postures! Start out by taking 5 standing postures and identify the muscles in action.

7. Alignment that could put the body at risk.

Once you have a basic understanding the components of the body, its movements, and have reviewed key poses, you can begin to understand the kinds of movements that put the body at risk. For instance, understanding that the knee is a hinge joint helps us recognize that flexion and extension are healthier movements than taking the knee into flexion as you would see in a pose such as Pigeon (where the shin is moved to the side). Understanding how the spine works can help us as we work with people in forward bends.


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