In the process of preparing for a new yoga teacher training session, I and my colleague, Karen Rider, have had the opportunity to examine a wonderful selection of yoga teacher training resources. Karen is completing an independent study with me through Find Your Voice YTT; she brings to the process a wonderful array of previous yoga (and other mind-body) experience as well as academic teaching experience in health, exercise science, and psychology. In working together, we realized that it would be of value to other trainees and instructors to share our experience with some of the newer resources available, and how we are making use of them. There will be a few blog posts on this topic in the coming weeks.
Karen Rider, M.A., freelance health writer and yogini
Julie Chavanu, M.A., E-RYT 200, RYT 500, RYS 200
Newly published in 2016, The Student’s Manual of Yoga Anatomy by Sally Parkes is a fantastic resource for a 200-hour yoga teacher training. Parkes is an experienced yogini and exercise physiologist who trains internationally and from her yoga studio in London. The heart of the book includes 30 essential poses with each explained and beautifully illustrated in common terms (moving into/out of pose, activating in the pose), which can easily be used while teaching a class, followed by a detailed functional anatomy description of the pose. (see photos) This approach to presenting the postures, combines the cues for practical instruction with the depth of pose anatomy that Ray Long is known for in his books (e.g., The Key Poses of Yoga). Along with the practical instruction cues for each pose, The Student’s Manual of Yoga Anatomy provides benefits and cautions, and notes modifications and use of props. It is an effective combination of practical instruction and functional knowledge.
The beginning of the book provides a thorough overview of anatomy and body movement as well as principles of yoga. The poses are organized by standing, seated, prone, etc., and the book concludes with several sequences. The only thing to add to this book would be additional poses (perhaps there will be a volume II) and for each pose, noting the chakras activated.
This book is an excellent guide for use in working through the Posture Lab segment of your yoga teacher training and could be easy integrated into other sections of a teacher training, including sequencing activities.
Speaking of Ray Long, M.D., a highly regarded orthopedic surgeon who teaches functional anatomy to yoga students around the world, there are several resources available for trainers and trainees. His books (listed below) are not introductory resources; they are ideal for YTT 500 level-trainees or YTT 200-level trainees who have some background in exercise science. That being said, The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga and Key Poses of Yoga are good recommended resources to supplement a book such as the one by Sally Parkes. For those ready to deepen their functional knowledge of anatomy of yoga poses, or those working in therapeutic yoga, Long’s books are a required reading, bar none. The Mat Companion Series, in particular is a resource advanced students of all traditions should consider.
Another new and exceptional resource for yoga teacher training is Instructing Hatha Yoga: A Guide for Teachers and Students 2ed by Diane M. Abrosini. This book has more of a textbook style format (it is published by Human Kinetics, an academic publishing house). It covers basic teaching methods, class environment, energy anatomy, detailed instructions on over 68 poses and guidance on structuring a class. The book is big—8.5×11 format that we would have liked to see spiral bound for ease of moving around with during a training.
If the book is not a required training resource, an experienced teacher should still have this text in her or his toolbox—it contains a number of valuable tools and strategies to share with trainees. The illustrations of poses are not in color, but they are clear and the poses are demonstrated by a variety of different models (e.g., men and women of different body types). Adjustments and modifications are provided in detail. The final chapters and appendices contain a number of class formats and lesson plans (including pre-natal, children’s, and a self-inquiry questionnaire, yoga class evaluation form, additional illustrations.) The only thing missing is a sample YTT test and answer key. That would be enormously handy as many teacher-trainers are not familiar with how to design a test for students and there is, to date, no standard format for testing students.
Student Manual to Yoga Anatomy by Sally Parkes