Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers, and Practitioners

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Anatomy of Hatha Yoga is the only modern authoritative source that correlates the study of hatha yoga with anatomy and physiology. Hatha yoga is comprised of stretching, strengthening and breathing exercises in upright, lying down and inverted postures. Yoga teachers and students, personal trainers, medical therapists, or anyone who is curious or troubled about how the body responds to stretching and exercise will find in this book a cornucopia -- partly new and partly old -- of readable and reliable information. It was written and edited to meet the needs of a general audience largely unschooled in the biomechanical sciences, and yet to attract and challenge the interests of the medical profession. This book features 230 black and white photographs and more than 120 diagrams and anatomical illustrations.

Chapter 1 summarizes general principles of anatomy and physiology as applied to hatha yoga. Breathing is next in chapter 2 because yogic breathing expedites movement and posture. Breathing is followed by pelvic and abdominal exercises in chapter 3 because the pelvis and abdomen form the foundation of the body. Standing postures will then be covered in chapter 4 because these poses are so important for beginning students, and because they provide a preview of backbending, forward bending, and twisting postures, which are covered in detail in chapters 5, 6, and 7. The headstand and shoulderstand, including an introduction to cardiovascular function, are presented in chapters 8 and 9. Postures for relaxation and meditation are treated last in chapter 10.

WINNER, 2002 Benjamin Franklin Award for Health Wellness, and Nutrition - Publishers Marketing Association.

Customer Reviews:

  • Tremendous Detail, but readable
    I think that this is one of the best books on the market if you want to understand what is happening to the body while doing yoga postures. A previous reviewer mentioned that it would be good to have the Sandskit terms for many of the poses, which would be nice, but I can understand the rationale for having all poses in their english equivalent. If you are a teacher, serious practioner/student this is a must buy, because it provides great detail about anatomical perspective of yoga....more info
  • Great book
    Amazing insight to how the body work during yoga postures- should be the bible for any yoga practitioner and student....more info
  • A Must For Yoga Teachers!!!
    Just a quick comment... This book is a genuine bible for yoga teachers, particularly those wanting to know about how detailed anatomy plays into each yoga pose. The descriptions are so thorough and helpful--an amazing way to create safety in a yoga class and learn how to prepare the body for more advanced poses, using foundations of anatomy and alignment. Brillant and a must-have to always pull down from the bookshelf for reference....more info
  • Required reading for any serious yoga student
    This book is meticulous and comprehensive. You will learn aspects of yoga that are rarely taught including the ability to train the neuromuscular system from the point of activation all the way back to basics of the spinal column. the angles of the poses are also all given which can round out a teacher or students education of the poses. Most importantly the neuromuscular knowledge leads to muscle training through endurance, strength, and toning; aspects of yoga that are under acknowledged and under appreciated....more info
  • Meant for serious study
    This book is exhaustive in scope, meticulous in its detailed presentation, and clearly NOT meant for pleasure reading.

    I've used it a lot since I got it, and I consider it a very valuable resource. I have not read the whole thing. I doubt if I will ever read it from cover to cover. It's not that kind of book. It's more of a "look up the topic and get the info you need" kind of book.

    It's not a book for someone with a casual interest in yoga. The length, depth, and cost of the book remove it from that category. If you are a serious student of yoga, or if you're studying to be a yoga teacher some day, you NEED this book. It is regarded by most of the teachers with whom I've spoken as the most complete book on the topic. Nothing else in the English language even comes close to this.

    ...more info
  • Excellent Book!
    I recommend this book to any person who want to know more about Hatha Yoga in a deeply way....more info
  • very important information for the practice of yoga
    I love the book and wish I got it long time ago. The book's very detail imformation helps me to understand what yoga would do to our body scientifically so I can start to practice yoga confidently and correctly.I think everyone who would like to know about the benefit of yoga should get the book....more info
  • Best Yoga Anatomy Out There
    I have been working with this book for several months and have received great benefit. It is not only academically informative, but contains much useful and practical information as well. If you are serious about your yoga practice, this book is definitely an asset....more info
  • Great tool for yogi's and teachers of yoga.
    I was introduced to this dvd in a teachers yoga class recently. I think it is an invaluable tool for anyone teaching and/or doing yoga. It explains the different "looks" of the asanas and why that is. It will prevent many practitioners from hurting themselves or others trying to acquire a position they are physically incapable of....more info
  • Getting Physical
    From a Doctors point of view, you'll get lots of valuable physiological information behind Hatha yoga. There is something for all levels of practice here. A good read or handy reference....more info
  • Comprehensive reference work
    This book is probably not for everyone. It's account of anatomy is quite detailed where it needs to be, and readers who have a hard time processing this sort of detail will have a hard time with the book. That potential problem is made worse by the relative lack of good illustrations.
    The book is grouped by families of poses (i.e. standing, bends, twists) and presents the most relvant sections of anatomy for each family prior to desribing how the anatomy functions in specific poses.
    It's this blend of anatomical description and practical application that makes the book so valuable. The level of detail may mean that you have to reread chapters a few times to get the picture, but once you have you will have a very clear idea of exactly what is being stretched, what muscles support the motion, and what limits the motions. This is all very helpful when you are trying to break poses and especially vinyasa down into the various separate motions that make them up. That in turn really helps you figure out what needs to be worked on and how to work on it.
    For me the section on breathing and core tension shed more light on why and how yoga works than anything I've ever read in either western or eastern traditions. The book is worth owning for that chapter alone.
    My one suggestion is to acquire another book on anatomy to have a more comprehensive set of drawings available to supplement the limited set presented in the book....more info
  • A+ on Anatomy
    This book is a must have for yoga teachers! Great information as well as good detailed pictures. Namaste'...more info
  • Helped me a lot

    Being an actual practitioner of many disciplines has helped me in many different areas of my own self, including my mind, my body and my soul... Well, this book in question is a very good source for the one looking for hatha yoga, and I especially like the way in which it is presented: very clear and with good explanations.

    Though I do not think this is a manual or book for beginners, I do totally recommend it for people with at least a short base in this system, and definitely a book I will keep. There is a lot of information within, and also, the anatomy described is definitely something one should know, at least, as general knowledge.

    Remember: with a little bit of energy, anyone can learn!...more info
  • Anatomy of Hatha Yoga
    As a student and a teacher of yoga, I found this book extremely helpful. Not only does it give detailed information about how yoga affects the body on every level, it is full of good suggestions on how to build up to the more difficult poses. Variations on standard poses were also very helpful. I strongly recommend this for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the time-honored practice of yoga. ...more info
  • Anatomy of Hatha Yoga

    A super book on anatomy for the teacher or student that helps to understand the mechanics of asana. I like the separate chapters for each group like forward bends, twists etc.. The section on backbending is particularly useful to help students find out where they need to be rather than where they want to be. Camella Nair- Author of "Aqua Kriya Yoga"....more info
  • It has it all
    This is the type of book I have been seeking for along time. It (more) than met my expectations. ...more info
  • A definitive, 623-page instructional manual
    In Anatomy Of Hatha Yoga: A Manual For Students, Teachers, And Practitioners, author David Coulter draws upon his many years of experience and expertise in teaching microscopic, neuroscience, and elementary gros anatomy courses, as well as the practice of Hatha Yoga, to create a definitive, 623-page instructional manual covering the impact that this particular yoga tradition and practice has upon human physiology. Individual chapters are dedicated to "Movement and Posture"; "Breathing"; "Abdominopelvic Exercises"; "Standing Postures"; "Backbending Postures"; "Forward Bending Postures"; Twisting Postures"; "The Headstand"; "The Shoulderstand"; and "Relaxation and Meditation". Enhanced for the student and/or practitioner of Hatha Yoga with an informed and informative introduction and "Basic Premises" orientation, a glossary, additional sources for further study, "Acknowledgments", indexes of "Anatomical Terms" and "Practices", and a brief author biography, Anatomy Of Hatha Yoga is a seminal contribution which is strongly recommended reading for professionals and non-special general readers with an interest in the discipline of yoga in general, and Hatha Yoga in particular.
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  • Increase your knowledge & improve your yoga
    This book is essential if you want to deepen your yoga practice, for how can you really fully understand and better your practice if you don't have a clear understanding of the mechanics of your own body? My suggestion to get the most of the book is to first read chapter one "Movement and Posture" to get a general foundation of the concepts and terminology that will be used throughout the book. Subsequent chapters provide detailed anatomical information pertinent to types of postures. Chapters, therefore, are in the vein of "Abdominopelvic Exercises", "Standing Postures", "The Shoulderstand", etc. So choose a style of asana that you'd like to focus on, read through the pertinent chapter, and then spend a couple of weeks putting the knowledge to work experientially, deepening your understanding of those areas of your body and the series of associated asanas. Don't expect to learn the vast amount of information in one reading. Expect to frequently refer back to the book as you put the information into practice. In my opinion, you'll get far more value out of the book if you use it as an experiential guidebook, rather than treating it like a textbook....more info
  • Excellent reference book for teachers & students
    A much needed approach to yoga! As a yoga teacher, I found this book to be extremely useful and I have referred beginning (and not so beginning!) students to at least read the "basic premises". As others have mentioned, the only drawback is it is not all easy reading and some may be put off by that. But even if you read excerpts throughout, you & your practice will benefit immensely from this book....more info
  • Blending science and spirituality
    This book is an excellent anatomy review that uses yoga asanas as examples, or perhaps a great yoga book that uses science to deepen our understanding. I am a science teacher and yoga student who finds this book to be a wonderful resource....more info
  • detailed posture instructions
    The first few chapters of this book describe in excruciating detail of nerves and breathing. This is pretty daunting, but I'm sure it's worthwhile for anyone with the patience. Later chapters focus on one type of yoga move (e.g., twists), and convey precise details on how each of the most common yoga moves is supposed to be performed: what to do, what not to do, how to modify the posture when beginning and inflexible, and how to change the posture as you improve. I found the details on the various "standing with legs spread" poses to be incredibly helpful -- which way are your hips and feet really supposed to be facing?

    Well worth the money. Fascinating reading. I wish more postures were described. ...more info
  • anatomy of Haatha Yoga
    The book is fine. I was angry about the poor delivery. First was "lost" in the mail. When you resent the book, the date given for the arrival was 4-5 days beyond. I didn't receive it , kept questionning my doorman(part time) and found that the deliverer didn't leave the book. or a message. Finally the post office traced it and I received it 10 after your statement of delivery.
    Add to my account for the future: Leave with doorman or superintendent;if no one is home
    Thank you........ Dr Myra fooden, ...more info
  • Should be Required for Yoga Teachers!

    I'm currently in training to be a yoga teacher, and this book is required reading for my courses. It really goes into detail, as it applies to yoga postures and breathing. It's a must-have for the serious yoga student or teacher. It will help you make the most of your postures, and understand the mechanics involved. It will also help you explain and cue poses if you are a yoga instructor. ...more info
  • Excellent
    I like this book. If you want Power Yoga told by experts, this is the one you will love.

    MSc Mech Eng, PhD in aerodynamics and a Power Yoga instructor at Siemens / Sweden...more info
  • Keeps Delivering
    This book is very technical, yet very human. It requires patience. But if you love doing yoga like I do the book can be a partner to help you grow with your practice. I usually refer to it each week. It's well worth having it at your finger tips....more info
  • Great for students and teachers of Yoga!
    I found this book very informative yet easy to read. And it is fun to color all those organs! I am a yoga teacher and anatomy seems to be an avoidable subject in a class. I have read quite a few anatomy books and thus far, I like this one the most - Highly recommended.

    Ullasini Khwan info
  • Amazing
    This book is simply a treasure. Full of hard to find information you probably wont find anywhere else. Just buy it....more info
  • A Great Help
    As an aging and serious beginner, I came to Yoga with a bag full of recurring injuries and thus fear.

    This book helps me understand why I get this or that "pull" or "tear." The book is probably most suitable for teachers and advanced students because of it's detail, but if you're like me and want to understand your anantomy on your way to enjoying the ethereal benefits of Yoga, you would probably enjoy having this book for reference.

    I've loaned it out twice already to friends who have had nagging injuries.

    Bob Rogers...more info
  • Serious about Yoga ? : you must have this book
    This book well written and perfectly edited gives you a real inside on how our body function in relation to yoga practice. along with Iyengar , Erich Schiffmann, and Van Lysebeth books this book is a must....more info
  • Extremely informative
    As I'm writing this, my copy of Anatomy of Hatha Yoga is resting on my lap. I'm only on page 47 and I feel that I have already learned enough to make this book well worth what I paid for it. Although it can get very technical at times and might be a little frustrating for people without knowledge of anatomy and physiology, the author breaks things down using easy to understand analogies and offers physical activities to fully understand what he is talking about. This might not be a book that a lot of people can read from cover to cover, but it describes everything in detail and is very informative.

    I definitely think I have become a better yoga teacher just reading a small amount. Although I won't say that every yoga teacher NEEDS this book, I do think that there are very few books that break down yoga and examine it scientifically with such quality. Even if you already know the postures of hatha yoga, there is more to this book than that, so you will still heavily benefit. Plus, if you really want to be a good teacher, you should understand WHY you do a posture the way you do as well as how to do it. It's all well and good to quote your textbook at your students, but in my opinion, you shouldn't be teaching if that is all you want to do.

    The author earned his Ph.D. in anatomy from the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences in 1968 and has practiced yoga since 1974, so he's not just some scientist who decided on a whim to write a book about yoga. Don't let the reviews saying this book is "too complicated" scare you away. They obviously quit reading before he went on to explain further. Still, if you purchase it and find it is a little overwhelming, you can always use it as an awesome reference book. Then, when you feel ready, try again knowing this will help you become a better teacher and/or student....more info
  • Learn the language of Hatha Yoga
    I have been waiting for this extraordinary book since 1987 when I experienced David Coulter's awesome yoga sessions at the Himalayan Institute where I became a certified yoga instructor. I need to read his book slowly because Coulter's understanding of the subtle relationships between various muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, etc., is so intricate and so vast that I must read and apply over and over. I note the effect, i.e., of massaging the musculotendinous junctions of the hamstrings, that allows me to actually lower my chest flat against my thigh (something I have not previously been able to do.) And I'm only on page 65! This book could be likened to learning a new language, one that enables readers to learn to speak and listen to the body with respect and sensitive inquiry as we relax and develop fluency. ...more info
  • WHOA, informative!
    I was looking for something full of pictures, which this is not, but I'm so happy to have this book. It's alot of information, very scientific, very thorough. Great resource for anyone dedicated to yoga....more info
  • Few, if any, problems
    The one problem with this amazing tool -- and here I disagree with an earlier reviewer -- is the lack of Sanskrit names for poses. The myriad English names for poses, names that have developed in various studios, seem to be regional and unheard of outside of their limited expanse. It would have been easier to cross-reference postures to texts such as Light on Yoga, if "Anatomy of Hatha Yoga" had consistently supplied the original Sanskrit, instead of vague, although evocative, English bastardizations....more info
  • Awesome Condition! Perfect! Thank you!! Awesome!!!!
    Overall it is an excellent, easy to read and detailed book that I highly recommend to anyone wanting to know a little bit more about the Anatomy of Hatha Yoga. Especially, students or teachers wanting to expand on their yoga experience. ...more info
  • It's like an owner's manual for your body
    After reading all the positive reviews, I purchased the book. I have not been disappointed. As a fitness instructor of a yoga-based class, I was interested in learning more of what's going on underneath the pose. The author presents the information in a well thought out manner. Chapters are divided into the main postures of the body with pictures and illustrations throughout the book. You're lead through information that systematically explains the effect of stretching on the muscles and surrounding tissues and breathing and the muscles that are affected by specific breathing practices -- and that's just the first two chapters.

    If you want to be able to answer questions on enhancing and understanding your yoga practice or those of your students, this is a great book to own.

    ...more info
  • An incredible reference for yoga teachers and students alike
    As a yoga student of less than two years, i have found this book to be invaluable. While very dense, easier to read as a reference than a novel, it contains rich details about the entire body's anatomy as it relates to yoga. You learn what muscles are used in countless poses, and how to deepen your practice to invigorate deeper tissues through more knowledgeable yoga. It also dwells on breathing and meditation.
    It's a bit expensive, so you should be a committed yogi or yogini of any level before you spend the money. Keep it handy, read a bit here and there as you grow your own practice, and you will find yourself becoming more aware of your amazing body....more info
  • Living anatomy
    To really understand the function of body, we need teorethical knowledge and own experience through practice. This book deepens this understanding since it connect deep knowledge of human body and experience. It is alive. I recommend it strongly to all doctors, medicin students, yoga teachers, yoga practisioners, phisio terapeuts, sports pedagogs, etc....more info
  • a must have
    This is a great book. It explains the anatomy and physiology of yoga postures very clear terms. It is a valuable asset for all levels of yoga practitioners....more info
  • Buy this book
    I am a veteran yoga and Pilates instructor. I am also an ACE certified personal trainer and board certified neuromuscular therapist. I have rarely read a book that is better for anyone in the movement field. This book will not only deepen your yoga practice as you are able to physically understand what your body is doing in the various poses (sometimes this can be so much more helpful than being told to, "drop your kneecaps.") but the pictures are quite helpful. I find the writing to be informative but understandable. I have a copy at my office for my massage clients, at my home to refresh me as well as at my studio to make available to my students who wish to learn more about a pose or series. I cannot recommend this book more highly!...more info
  • Scholarly Yoga Anatomy Approach
    Amazing yoga anatomy -- very scholarly and very text dense. If you are not a visual learner this is a great book. If you are a visual learner, try this in combination with Kaminoffs Yoga Anatomy. The two together provide almost all the information you need to understand what happens to internal structures during asana....more info
  • The best anatomy of Yoga
    If you want to know how Yoga affect you. You must read this book. It show you anatomy when you make Yoga asana that ensure you. I use this book when I practice Yoga everyday....more info
  • Great for understanding what yoga is doing to your body
    I think this book is wonderful. The writing is conversational, and witty, he has the best little, fun and inspiring asides from the regular text that I look foreward to in reading this book. The eplainations for concepts of anatomy are pretty straight foreward, no pressure. He clearly has a passion for his subject which shows and inspires the reader to keep at yoga, especially when you see someone else loving it so much. The book, i believe, is best read straight through, (daunting?- no, it's pretty easy-going and not so boring that it's painful to read- he makes neurons exciting!)My reasoning is that each section leads to more understanding for the future chapters. He also has a ton of other books to check out, if the brief explainations only serve to wet your wistle. This book is a physical study of yoga so if you want more of a spiritual history you'll have to go elsewhere, but that's alright. In the end his passion for yoga and the understanding of it will shine through and will make the reader's interest for yoga grow into a passion much like his. ...more info
  • Absolute Must Have!!
    This book is amazingly detailed and thorough. You can certainly understand why the author took twenty years to write it. The language is very technical, yet understandable. Anyone who wishes to truly understand the anatomy behind the movements in Hatha Yoga should have this book as a reference. I just can not say enough great things about this book.
    ...more info
  • Practical Anatomy
    This is an excellent book for tachers of yoga, as well as for those teaching other physical disciplines. The author has a clear grasp of anatomy and a readable presentation style. What takes this book a step beyond other anatomy texts is that in addition to a basic and general presentation of anatomy , the author then connects that basic anatomy to yoga postures, including photos and diagrams. I highly recommend this book to anyone teaching others to work with their bodies....more info
  • good cure for insomnia
    I, too am enrolled in a teacher training program that requires this book. Not having any background in anatomy, I was looking forward to this book....thinking because it would be related specifically to yoga, THIS book would help make anatomy interesting enough for me to actually learn something from the book. Unfortunately I was mistaken. Coulter writes as if you already know most of what he's expounding. The anatomical illustrations of muscles,etc are not clear. Every now and then, I actually come across a paragraph or even a page that makes sense to me. Mostly, the book is written in such a dull manner that it puts me to sleep. I read, re-read, look at the illustrations....yet, most of the time, I just give up trying to comprehend what he's writing about & move on. When the training program is over, this book is out of my house...maybe on a bonfire as part of a ceremonial ritual....more info
  • yoga alignment explained
    Not exactly light reading! But, I didn't expect it to be. I find the material beautifully presented, extremely clear and articulate. Just the reference source I need!...more info
  • A wealth of information for the serious yogi
    I am a mostly casual yogini, probably at an advanced beginner to intermediate level, but I am always interested in expanding my knowledge and improving my form. As you can see from the reviews which precede mine, this book comes highly recommended, and I must add my own kudos. Author David Coulter has done an amazing job of breaking down a huge amount of scientific information on anatomy and communicating it in a readable, relevant form. In each chapter, Coulter first presents applicable anatomical concepts and then relates these concepts to specific posture groups. He frequently guides the reader through brief asana exercises to better illustrate particular areas of focus in the body; I found these exercises to be especially helpful. Clear black and white photos accompany many of the text's asana descriptions, and the various anatomical illustrations provide supplemental information. I admit that some of the more detailed anatomical discussions were well over my head, but this is due to my own shortcomings, not those of the author. Even with this limitation, I found this book to be extremely educational; yoga teachers and more advanced practitioners are likely to derive even more benefit from this comprehensive manual....more info


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