When I started yoga teacher training, I knew we’d study philosophy and anatomy. Four weeks into the program, I’m surprised at the depth of our study.
Philosophy class has us reading The Bhagavad Gita (Sanskrit for God’s song) and learning about five different kinds of yoga:
- Râja yoga (yoga of spiritual kings)
- Hatha yoga (cultivating a strong body)
- Jnâna yoga (about the mind)
- Bhakti yoga (love and devotion for the Divine)
- Kharma yoga (yoga of action)
I’m hearing many Sanskrit words for the first time. These bounce around in my head but few have translated into understanding their meaning.
It’s the same with anatomy. From naming the skeleton’s bones to knowing where a muscle originates and ends to grasping the muscle’s action – this is intense learning. Leslie, our anatomy teacher, reminded us that much of this learning is memorization and suggested flash cards. Maybe a good idea …..
Why does a yoga teacher need to know philosophy and anatomy? If I’m going to teach , I’ll need to understand yoga’s ancient traditions. To help a student gain a pose’s benefits, I’ll need to know how his or her muscles move and work.
Learning Sanskrit words and anatomy’s medical terms has an added bonus. Neuroscience shows that learning new words and language adds grey matter. It doesn’t matter our age. Adults are surprisingly good at learning new words, once we understand our brains ignore sounds we don’t need for comprehension. Kids learn languages easier because their brains learn by embracing nonsensical sounds .
I’ll learn to embrace these new sounds that initially make little sense … and create some flash cards!
BTW – Chit, part of Râja yoga, translates into the mind’s pure and absolute knowledge. Your iliopsoas is a combination of two large muscles in your pelvis and you use them every day to stand and walk!