Course 2 – Anatomy: Energetic & Functional

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It is incumbent upon yoga teachers to have a solid understanding of anatomy. It helps us design sequences that are safe, efficient and effective, sharpens our observation and cueing skills so we can take our students beyond just the “outer shape” of asana and towards deeper and
transformational levels. When we understand the “whys” of cues, we can give our students the tools they need to become aware and empowered to find the “a-ha” moment themselves.

Overall Objective
Students will become familiar with human physical anatomy and physiology as well as “energy anatomy” and physiology (bandhas, koshas, chakras, nadis, etc.). This module includes both the study of yoga anatomy and physiology as well as its application to yoga practice (benefits, contraindications, healthy movement patterns, etc.).

Learning Objectives
Students will learn to use energetic and functional anatomy principles to teach and practice each asana’s prime function while also achieving a safe and transformational experience.


  • Students will learn the connection between energetic and functional anatomy in asana.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate in one asana how sukha and sthirra relate to homeostasis in our physiology and anatomy (agonist/antagonist actions, reflexes, etc.).
  • Students will be able to describe how cell structure relates to sukha/sthirra.
  • Students will teach each chakra using an appropriate asana and describe the relationship. (e.g. tadasana, how rooting into the pada bandhas allows expansion upwards).
  • Students will learn how to utilize the nervous system (lines of energy and reflexes) in cueing and timing (e.g. stretch reflex, PNF, reciprocal inhibition, principles of stretching) to achieve the primary function of each asana and avoid injury.
  • Students will demonstrate this in a practice teaching session.
  • Students will learn how the systems mentioned in this chapter (circulatory, connective tissue/fascia, the skeleton and bones, muscular, and the nervous system) are benefited by yoga.
  • Students will be able to describe how yoga benefits each system and provide an example.
  • Students will understand the difference between open and closed/square hip asanas and be able to demonstrate this in our practice teaching sessions.
  • Students will learn the movements of the pelvis from neutral to forward and backward pelvic tilts and be able to demonstrate this in all of the required asanas.
  • Students will understand the curves of the spine and how they work in each plane of movement and be able to demonstrate this in practice teaching sessions.


  • Part Two of Erich Schiffmann’s Moving into Stillness
  • Chapter 3 in Desikachar’s Heart of Yoga
  • Chapter 3 & 4 in Mark Stephens’ Teaching Yoga
  • Course 3 in your manual.

Journaling (This is for YOU! You are not required to turn in)

  • Continue tracking your asana practice, what sensations you feel, which muscles are used.
  • Focus on one muscle each week to focus on function as both an agonist & agonist.
  • Note how ‘Playing the Edge’ and ‘Lines of Energy’ work as you practice. Which idea helps you enjoy or understand the pose more?
  • From Schiffman’s reading, answer the following: What is the difference between intensity and pain? Describe maximum and minimum edges. How does this relate to the nervous system? Can you apply this to teaching? What is the push/yield aspect of poses and how can we teach this? How does breath inform poses? What is flexion? Extension? Apply it to movement in one pose.
  • List the seven chakras, their qualities as far as color, sound, function and location. List the anatomical organs, glands that are in close proximity.