SOURCE: Pranamaya, Inc.

January 08, 2008 14:24 ET

Avoid Injuries and Frustration in Yoga and Sports: Understand Your Anatomy and Bone Structure to Protect Yourself

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - January 8, 2008) - According to Yoga Journal, an estimated 18 million people were practicing yoga in 2003, up from about seven million in 1998. Unfortunately, the number of yoga injuries has also increased. In yoga classes everywhere, yoga students strain to replicate their instructor's positions exactly and it can sometimes lead to injury.

Just as every snowflake is different, each of us has our own unique bone structure and therefore will experience yoga differently. In order to avoid painful bone-on-bone compression, it is important not to force our bodies into rigid positions, warns Paul Grilley, who has been teaching yoga for 28 years with a specialty in the instruction of anatomy. The angles and rotations of our bones and joints affect how we are able to safely interpret each pose, he explains.

In his DVD "Anatomy for Yoga with Paul Grilley," produced by the emerging mind-body media company Pranamaya, Inc., Grilley uses comparative anatomy to explain the underlying skeletal structure of the body, how the bones differ significantly from person to person, and how to use that knowledge in gaining a much deeper understanding of our individual yoga practices. This knowledge can be carried over into sports or other daily activities so we use our individual bodies safely.

"After studying many different skeletons, I was struck by the wide range of variations and even lack of symmetry in people's bone structures and how that relates to yoga," says Grilley. "If people understood their individual anatomy better, they could customize each pose to avoid injuries and wouldn't be so hard on themselves when they're unable to do certain things."

Every bone has natural differences in proportion and orientation. For instance, a petite female and a tall male can both model the twisting triangle pose "correctly" but because of natural anatomical differences in their bone structures, the woman's femur to torso angle might be 45 degree, while the man's might be 65 degrees.

Another example is the ankle flexion differences that can be noticed in a downward facing dog position. One person's heels may touch the ground in the pose while another's are at a 45-degree angle. This does not mean that the person whose heels are flat is performing the pose better than the other person. Both are listening to their bodies and making the necessary adjustments in the pose. Rather than being frustrated by his inability to touch his heel to the ground, the second yogi would have a better experience if he understood that skeletal variations affect our yoga practices.

"A yoga practice is about being content with our bodies, not about competition," Grilley explains. "Don't push beyond what your body can handle without pain and ask your yoga teacher for individual attention if you have a question about how to customize a pose for your body's alignment. People training for sports on any level, from amateur to competitive, could benefit from a greater understanding of their anatomy to improve their performance and reduce the risk of injury."

"Anatomy for Yoga with Paul Grilley" is frequently used in yoga instructors' training programs. This comprehensive DVD includes nearly four hours of in-depth lectures and demonstrations of human anatomy as it relates to the yoga practice. The material is divided into seven successive chapters starting with an overview of anatomical concepts and delving deep into each of the major joints of the body. Using a wide range of yoga students, a real skeleton and computer-generated models, Grilley thoroughly demonstrates the fundamental differences between compressive and tensile (tension) stresses within a pose, and how each one must be addressed differently to get the most from any form of yoga practice.

The "Anatomy for Yoga with Paul Grilley" DVD costs $39.95 and is available at, along with more information about Grilley and his other DVD titles.

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