Your Body, Your Yoga

Your Body, Your Yoga
  1. What's it all about?
  2. Availability
  3. From the Back Cover
  4. Early Reviews
  5. Table of Contents
  6. Errata
  7. Selected Excerpts

What's it all about?

Yoga is big business today. This ancient spiritual teaching has been transformed into a modern physical practice focused on health and happiness rather than the ancient goal of spiritual liberation. Along with this focus on the physical has arisen a desire by yoga teachers and students to learn more about the body and to understand how yoga works. Unfortunately, virtually all anatomical training and books being offered to the yoga community focus solely on a muscular view. This limited perspective prevents a full understanding of how yoga works and, as a consequence, limits the effectiveness of the practice, and can even promote trying too hard, going too far in the physical practice, creating injury and pathology.

Your Body, Your Yoga has been written to broaden the understanding of what causes our limitations to movement, and to highlight the unique structure of the body that each student has. Human variation is a critically important realization for all therapeutic interventions, whether in a yoga classroom or in a doctor's office. Every body is different and this difference makes all the difference in how one should practice his or her yoga.

Unfortunately, most yoga training regarding anatomy and asana practice is based upon the unrecognized assumption that everyone is the same and we can all do every posture if we just try hard enough and long enough with proper attention to alignment. This has created an aesthetic focus in yoga practice that is unwarranted and unskillful. This book will help to educate teachers and students that an aesthetic approach to yoga is unproductive and often dangerous. However, a functional approach, based upon both an understood intention and a knowledge of how the body (your body!) works, is far more likely to lead to optimal health.
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When will Your Body, Your Yoga be Available?

It is here! The book is available for ordering now at and in bookstores. If your local bookstore or yoga studio does not have it, please ask them to stock it! The book is also available in eBook formats!

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From the Back Cover

"More important than knowing what kind of pose the student is doing is knowing what kind of student is doing the pose."

There is a revolution occurring in yoga today around the alignment paradigm. The concept of one and only one ideal alignment for each yoga posture, taught through an aesthetic focus on how the student looks in the pose, is being replaced by a functional approach that acknowledges not only the intention of the posture but each student's unique biology and biography. In parallel, the paradigm of focusing on the muscles as the limiters and causal agents of movement is being replaced by a broader understanding. The role of fascia is being recognized and incorporated into yoga classes and trainings. Beyond muscles and fascia, there is a wide spectrum of causes for and resistance to motion, ranging from various sources of tension to the qualities of compression.

Your Body, Your Yoga is the first book in a series describing the many contributors to limitations in our yoga practice. This book looks at the lower body, and the variety of shapes, movements and potential restrictions to movement in the hips, knees, ankles and feet.

Introduced are the causes of resistance to movement, the frequency, extent and consequences of human variation, and their implications for our yoga practice. While short, tight muscles can restrict movement, there are many reasons for a lack of mobility. The causes can be cast into a gradient, called the "What Stops Me? Spectrum": fascia, ligaments and joint capsules can be tight and tense, while compression arising from the body contacting other parts of the body will also impede movement. How these tissues develop their tension may be due to actions of our nervous or immune systems, or it may be due to our inherently unique body structure. Compression is the ultimate limiter of movement and is variable, depending upon a student's individual skeletal structure. All students are unique to varying degrees, and this individuality determines their ability and progress in their yoga practice and its benefit for them.

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Early Reviews & International Acclaim for Your Body, Your Yoga

Compulsory reading for those teaching and studying yoga! The best therapeutic exercise has a defined technique and dosage, but these are different for every person. Bernie Clark masterfully guides readers through an understanding of their unique bodies. Nothing else compares to the value and knowledge gained. With this, readers can create the most rigorous, evidence-based and effective yoga practice, finding what works best for them. Professor Stuart McGill, PhD, University of Waterloo, Canada.

You will not need another book on the mechanics of yoga. Bernie has written many wonderful books on yoga, but the one in your hands is his opus. I will be recommending this one to everyone! Sarah Powers, co-founder of Insight Yoga Institute and author of Insight Yoga, U.S.A.

Finally, a book that dares to combine yoga with state-of-the art critical thinking and scientific reflection! To my knowledge, the most accurate and anatomically-knowledgeable book in this field. I knew that Bernie Clark would contribute something remarkable. But this book goes way beyond even the highest expectations. A truly groundbreaking contribution to the field of science-inspired yoga. Professor Robert Schleip, PhD, Ulm University, Germany.

Your Body, Your Yoga is a fascinating, provocative, and scientifically-informed look at the inner workings of the body as it affects the practice of asana. Bernie Clark challenges much dogma in the modern postural yoga world, including a few heretofore sacrosanct principles of alignment, to demonstrate that a healthy and effective yoga practice should be adapted to each individual's unique needs, abilities and anatomy. Required reading for yoga teachers and yoga therapists, and highly recommended for avid practitioners. Timothy McCall, MD, author of Yoga As Medicine; U.S.A.

An exceptionally well-informed and interesting way of approaching the human enterprise of doing yoga. Full of beautiful and stimulating pictures and analogies, awakening a deep thirst to know more and think more yet. Loren M. Fishman, MD, B. Phil.(oxon.) author of Healing Yoga and several other books U.S.A.

If you want to buy only one book on yoga and anatomy, buy this one. It fills a gap that urgently needed filling, and makes our work as yoga teachers and educators immensely easier. This will be a textbook for our future yoga teacher trainings. Anat Geiger, co-owner of YogaGarden, Netherlands.

This book will revolutionize the practicing and teaching of yoga. It is going to be the next yoga bible! It is an incredible treasure, and it will help everybody to truly understand the essence of physical yoga practice. Stefanie Arend, author of Yin Yoga, Detox Yoga, and Fascia Massage, Germany.

Your Body, Your Yoga is an essential book for all serious yoga practitioners. Through skillful marshaling of evidence, Bernie Clark decisively illustrates the importance of individuality in yoga practice. Norman Blair, yoga teacher, author and trainer, United Kingdom.

A must-read for yoga teachers and practitioners. This book will reframe the way you think about body movements. Jo Phee, senior yoga teacher trainer, Singapore.

I am so amazed: Your Body, Your Yoga is more than a great book---it is like participating in a training at home. I could not stop myself from finishing it. Devrim Akkaya, senior yoga teacher trainer, Turkey.

This is an instant classic. Your Body, Your Yoga demystifies and reveals the limitations in one's yoga practice in a very clear and in-depth manner. Sebastian and Murielle, senior yoga teacher trainers, Indonesia.

Teachers will benefit greatly from understanding all that this book has to offer, and advancing students will enjoy and benefit all the more because of it. Bernie Clark's book is a terrific contribution to the field of yoga, which until recently has been overly "posture-centric." Bernie gives a readable, clear account of individual differences--how to recognize them, their consequences for asana practice, and how to sense when you are going too far. There is a wealth of information on the deeper mechanics of muscles and fascia, and an extensive treatment of the specifics of the joints. Doug Keller, author of Yoga As Therapy and associate professor in the Maryland University of Integrative Health Master's Degree Program in Yoga Therapy, USA

This is a brilliant book. It is an absolutely essential research resource for anyone who teaches, hopes to teach, or wants to practice the asana component of yoga in a safe, therapeutic, and effective way. Bernie Clark's thesis that we are not all the same and therefore there are no universal alignment principles that work for everyone is a huge contribution to today's yoga literature. I couldn't agree more. It is hard to believe that anyone would say this about a book on anatomy, physiology and human movement, but once I started reading, I was so excited I couldn't put it down! Beryl Bender Birch, author of 4 books on yoga and the founder/director of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute and The Give Back Yoga Foundation, USA

Instant Classic: Bernie Clark has done a tremendous service in producing this book. It is as thorough in its scope as it is excellent in its content. He has systematically accounted for anatomical variation. I feel indebted to Bernie and Paul Grilley for promoting an anatomically functional approach to yoga. Gil Hedley, Ph.D., Director, Integral Anatomy Productions, LLC, U.S.A.

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Table of Contents for Volume 1: What Stops Me?

How to Read this Book
Foreword: The History of Teaching Alignment
1.    You Are Unique - So Is Your Yoga
        Range of Human Variations
        Examples of Human Variations
2.    What Stops Me?
        Sensing Tension and Compression
        Functional Yoga versus Aesthetic Yoga
3.    The Value of Stress
4.    The Physiology of Tissues
        The Sources of Tension
            The Nervous System
            The Immune System
        The Sources of Compression
            Joints and Cartilage
5. Volume 1 Summary

A. Forms of Stress
B. Muscle Shapes and Functions
C. Myofascial Meridians
D. Facts about Osteoporosis
E. Types of Joints
F. Biomechanics of Joint Motion
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Table of Contents for Volume 2: The Lower Body

1. The Bare Bones of Yoga
    The Planes of the Body
2. The Joint Segments of the Lower Body
    The Hip Joint
            The Architecture of the Hip Joint
            The Bones of the Hip Joint
            The Joint Capsule and Ligaments
            Muscles of the Hip
            The Types and Ranges of Variations
        Function-Application in Yoga Postures
            Normal Ranges of Motion
            Sources of Tension
            Sources of Compression
            Variation in Ranges of Motion
    Hip Joint Summary
3. The Knee Joint
            The Architecture of the Knee
            The Bones of the Knee
            The Knee-Joint Capsule and Ligaments
            Muscles of the Knee
            The Types and Ranges of Variations
        Function-Application in Yoga Postures
            Normal Ranges of Motion
            Sources of Tension
            Sources of Compression
            Variation in Ranges of Motion
    Knee Joint Summary
4. The Ankle-Foot Segment
            The Architecture of the Ankle-Foot Segment
            The Bones of the Ankle and Foot
            The Ligaments
            The Muscles and Tendons
            The Types and Ranges of Variations
        Function-Application in Yoga Postures
            Normal Ranges of Motion
            Sources of Tension
            Sources of Compression
            Variation in Ranges of Motion
    Ankle-Foot Segment Summary
5 Volume 2 Summary

A. List of Anatomical Directions
B. Variations in the Female Pelvis
C. Mechanical Advantage-Pulleys and Levers
D. Flexion-Caused Impingement at the Hip Joint
E. The Dangers and Benefits of Valgum or Varum Knee Orientation
F. The Movements of the Foot and Ankle
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Unfortunately, in the first printing there were 3 cases where an illustration covered over the last part of a sentance. The cases are listed below along with the full sentence.
  • Page 109: The last sentence of the last paragraph is is incomplete. It should read
        The acetabula in (b) is almost pointing horizontally, while (a) has the acetabulum pointing forward and down.
  • Page 126: The last sentence of the second to last paragraph is incomplete. It should read
        In the case of a pelvis with acetabular abduction angle of 31°, the amount of abduction of the leg is 41°, considerably less because the acetabular abduction angle is much smaller.
  • Page 135: The last sentence of the last paragraph is is incomplete. It should read
        However, you can have too much of a good thing, and some athletes' hamstrings are overly tight, restricting functional daily movement.
While the above errors were made only in the first batch of books printed, the errors below are in all the remaining printed and eBook versions.
  • Page 72 - Deep Back Arm Line/Restrictions: "Shoulder problems in all directions can be inhibited" should read
        "Shoulder movement in all directions can be inhibited"
  • Page 107 - Figure 2.31 caption "Acetabular version ranges: (a) is the lowest abduction angle found in Table 2.1;" should read
        "Acetabular version ranges: (a) is the lowest version angle found in Table 2.2;"
  • Page 144, figure 2.85 - the directional arrow is incorrect, it should show
        superior - anterior - inferior - posterior (clockwise from the top).
  • page 150/151: "The limitations to extension show up in many yoga postures, such as... Wheel Pose (Dhanurasana)..." and "This shows up in postures requiring hip extension, like... and the Wheel Pose (Dhanurasana)."
        The proper Sanskrit name should be Wheel Pose (Urdhvadhanurasana)
  • Page 163: "...sitting on the heels (in yoga, this is called Hero Pose - Vajrasana) It should read
        "...sitting on the heels (in yoga, this is called Thunderbolt Pose - Vajrasana).
  • Page 210: "Often, the synovia of one joint is continuous with that of a neighboring joint." While not strictly wrong, it would be better to say
        "Often, the capsule/fascia of one joint is continuous with that of a neighboring joint."
  • Page 221: "Due to tibial rotation, the empirical axis is laterally rotated in the horizontal (transverse) plane..." It should read
         "Due to tibial rotation, the empirical axis is rotated in the horizontal (transverse) plane..."
  • Page 223: The paragraph "Variations in the Calcaneus" refers to figure 2.207. It should refer to figure 2.208.
  • Page 236, "Restrictions to Pronation": "The distal (lower) end of the fibula prevents the talus from everting to much. This is a bone-on-bone restriction, and its location is shown in red in figure 2.233c." The image is incorrect. Figure 2.233C should look like this: Figure 2.233C
  • Page 236, "Dorsiflexion of the Ankle": "This can lead to a number of pathologies, such as genu recurvatum (knock-knees)...". It should read
        "This can lead to a number of pathologies, such as genu recurvatum (hyperextension)...".
  • Page 248, "Warning": "Scar tissue or inflammation can cause tension, and compression can arise from a torn labrum". It should read
        "Scar tissue or inflammation can cause tension or compression."
  • Page 268: "(This is due to the shape of the talus: the lateral edge of the top of the talus' body, its trochlea, is longer than the medial edge, which causes the slight twisting during movement)" and with a footnote #447. It should read
         268: "(This is due to the shape of the talus: the medial edge of the top of the talus' body, its trochlea, is longer than the lateral edge, which causes the slight twisting during movement)" with a footnote #304.
  • Page 274, Fn 30: "The Labrum has also been called the glenoidal labrum and the cotyloid ligament." It should read
        "The Labrum has also been called the cotyloid ligament."
  • Page 278 & 279--end notes #145 and 174: The reference is to "Garland's et al. Atlas of Anatomy". They should read
         "Anne Gilroy et al. Atlast of Anatomy" per footnote #3 on page 273.

Selected Excerpts

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