This past weekend found me at another YogaFit training, this time in Excelsior, MN – Anatomy and Alignment I. This is the training I wanted to take, that started me on the YogaFit path back in 2013 – YogaFit requires Level 1 training to take this particular workshop.
Level 1 and Anatomy and Alignment were both taught by Katie, an absolutely amazing instructor. The enthusiasm she brings to class is infectious and inspiring, her delivery makes what could be a dry topic fun, and she uses a variety of tools to teach. It was easier to copy her bio from the YogaFit webpage:
Katie has been a Hatha Yoga Teacher for over 12 years. She holds certifications in personal training and group fitness instruction and designation of E-RYT 500. She has done extensive training in using Yoga asana, pranayama, and meditation in promoting positive affect and is a Level 1 LifeForce Yoga Practitioner, a mindfulness-based Yoga program that focuses on the intentional design of Yoga classes to manage mood. She is also a Senior Master Trainer for YogaFit Teacher Training Systems and the creator of YogaFit for Balancing Mood teacher training. Katie has studied Ayurveda, Tibetan Medicine, and Hatha Yoga at the University of Minnesota and has spent 4 months in Northern India studying these traditions.
Katie earned her MA at Gonzaga University. As part of her PhD study in Kinesiology, she is minoring in Prevention Science, as well as in Integrative Therapies and Healing Practices through the Center for Spirituality and Healing. Her PhD research project examines the efficacy of mindfulness-based Yoga in reducing depressive symptoms in currently mild to moderately depressed women. In addition, she serves as project coordinator for a large NIH-funded randomized trial that examines the efficacy of a physical activity intervention for the prevention of postpartum depression. Katie serves as Graduate Faculty at the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota and currently teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in Hatha Yoga history, asana, pranayama, meditation, philosophy, lifestyle, and ethics as well as research methods in Kinesiology.
I could sit and listen to Katie for hours (which, technically, I did…) and would love to take one of her classes at the U of MN. I bet it would be challenging and inspiring.
As I type this, I’m still reeling a bit from information overload. Katie admitted she was giving us in two days what she usually gives over a semester in one of her courses. I thought my knowledge of anatomy was pretty strong, I’ve always been interested in how the body works, but after this weekend I realized just how little I really understand. Uff…
To recap the training, we began by taking the YogaFit Seven Principles of Alignment and applied them directly to Anatomy:
1) Establishing base and dynamic tension starting with the feet
2) Soften and align the knees
3) Hinge at the hips
4) Create core stability
5) Align the spine
6) Relax the shoulders
7) “shorten the lever”
Then it was a review of anatomical and kinesiology terminology, which I admit I’m really weak in. We discussed the planes of the body, what flexion/extension/ medial and lateral rotation/adduction/abduction are in relation to those planes, and eccentric/concentric/isometric contraction. Next came the bones, joints, muscle groups up to the base of the neck, plus some of the tendons. Then we put all of those together to understand how the body moves. That was day one, 8am to 6pm.
Day two we started at 8am, had a 20 minute lunch, and finished at 4pm. We reviewed the above terms – lots of review and repetition via group work and 90 minute asana practice – and we applied what we learned to yoga poses specifically. What is happening when we move into a warrior II, what are the hamstrings actually doing in a forward fold, what needs to lengthen in order to do a heart opener (backbend), what muscle groups support us in our twists, and so on.
The books we referred to – and in this workshop we actually did use the books – were the Key Muscles of Yoga by Ray Long, PhD and Anatomy and Asana: Preventing Yoga Injuries by Susie Hately Aldous. Key Muscles is a great book. I was reading the moment I pulled it out of the box, and this training gave me a better understanding of what I was looking at. I’ve had Susie’s book for years from a previous training, but until now I never really looked at it. Again, a deeper appreciate of what I resource I now have.
The weekend, the instructor, the participants were amazing. I need to let things gel a bit before I start reviewing the material. This is too important to just set aside, especially since I intend to take Anatomy and Alignment II - which is also taught by Katie - in another year or so.
If you are serious about leading yoga classes, take an anatomy and alignment class. If you are in the YogaFit program, this workshop was outstanding. You'll be overwhelmed, but your personal practice and teaching will be better for it.