The Anatomy of Growth

With Josh Blau and Irene Ais at Leslie Kaminoff’s Melbourne TT.

Before I left the U.S. over four years ago, I picked up Leslie Kaminoff’s best-selling book The Anatomy of Yoga.  I was preparing to make two major transitions.  The first was moving to Melbourne, Australia.  The second was to leave behind a decade of work as a documentary filmmaker to become a full-time yoga instructor.   I invested in a pile of books intended to really focus me on teaching yoga, some of which remain unread!  But The Anatomy of Yoga is compact, well-illustrated, and practical and I enjoy the way Leslie writes. I was particularly captivated by his description of the anatomy of breathing, prompting me to take several online courses with Leslie.  I enjoyed distance learning but was frustrated that I hadn’t really understood what Leslie had to offer sooner, say, while I was in the U.S. and living only a few hours away from him.  Now here I was on the other side of the world…

In that same pile of books was Anatomy Trains by Tom Myers.  I picked it up the first time and got overwhelmed.  While Myers makes every effort to explain the anatomy behind his body maps in accessible language, I felt out of my depth.  I had to take the early chapters  bit by bit and stop frequently to look things up.  As with Kaminoff, I thought perhaps some online learning would help.  So, I took some webinars with Myers, did some more research on the anatomy of fascia and went back to reading Anatomy Trains.  Now the concepts were much clearer and I was fascinated by the architecture of connective tissue.  Some (like my husband) would even say obsessed!  Yet again I found myself wishing I had discovered Myers when I was in the U.S. and his trainings so much closer at hand.  But I am not one to be discouraged!  Inspired by what I was learning, I started to read the work of Robert Schleip, Gerald Pollack, and others.  I designed my own anatomy studies course which included not just the anatomy of muscles, fascia, and bones but the meridian maps of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  I challenged myself to integrate this information into my classes and teacher training.  And as if my obsession (er, commitment) could exert a gravitational pull both Myers and Kaminoff arrived in Melbourne!

Myers came in 2014 and although I had to attend a training for bodyworkers rather than movement instructors, I jumped at the chance to learn.  And working with hands-on fascial release techniques, while challenging to a complete beginner, added an incredibly valuable perspective to my teaching.  2015 brought Leslie Kaminoff to Melbourne for a 2-day training full of Leslie’s trademark convergence of classical Hatha Yoga principles with modern Yoga Therapy.

Myers challenges the neatly drawn anatomy texts that break us into parts. Like the ancient yogis, he explores an anatomy of connection and argues that kinesthetic intelligence, mental acuity, and emotional intelligence are inextricably linked.  Kaminoff fearlessly probes the teachings of ancient yoga, clarifying the bio-mechanical principles behind the ancient teachings.  Both men are passionate and like to provoke debate.  They don’t suffer fools.   They are interested in evidence we can see, feel and grasp intellectually and experientially.  They seek, test, and clarify principles that consistently achieve good therapeutic outcomes. They are willing to change their minds. Like all great teachers, you leave their trainings with a renewed sense of wonder rather than rules or formulas.

In June I will return to the U.S. to dissect a human cadaver under the supervision of another pioneer, Gil Hedley.  Only a few years ago, I was intimidated to pick up a book on the anatomy of Connective Tissue.  And in a few weeks, I will learn to use a scalpel to experience the human body in this incredibly intimate and profound way.

I volunteer to be the model for a session on Body Reading at Tom Myers 2014 Anatomy Trains course in Melbourne