Beginning February 27th, Kristin Leal will lead MetaAnatomy Therapeutics Training at ISHTA Yoga. Here, Kristin answers some of our questions about the study of anatomy, and reminds us that we are more than the sum of our parts!
What interests you about anatomy?
I think there is something so awe-inspiring and insanely beautiful about studying the human body. There is a stunning dance of both vulnerability and strength that I am endlessly fascinated by.
Why is it important for yoga teachers to have a solid understanding of anatomy?
Well, I think it’s important for every human to have a solid understanding of anatomy! This is the study of you! The study of the vehicle that you live inside. This crazy vehicle that runs, jumps, shimmies, sings, loves, and learns. On a very practical level, it’s super important as yoga teachers to have a solid understanding of how we are put together so we can safely and elegantly help others to reconnect to themselves. When we come to learn how the body moves and how different we all are, even on the level of the architecture of the bones, we stop demanding everyone look the same in these asanas. Then the real work begins to meet each student where they are and help them to find the practices they most need to find balance.
How has your teaching evolved as you learned more about anatomy?
I think studying anatomy has helped me understand how gosh darn different we all are! Our bones are shaped and put together differently. Our muscles and tendons carry different amounts of flexibility and tension. We have different habits and patterns that are encased in our minds and bodies. I think by celebrating these differences, it helps us to honor our connectedness. We learn to understand that underneath it all, we all belong to the same matrix of light and dark strands that make up the tapestry of all matter. My teaching and my life really evolved after being able to see and understand this.
How does physical alignment affect the energetic body?
While it’s easier to study things by breaking them down into smaller pieces and categories, it really belies our true form. We are both energy and matter, physical and energetic in nature. Releasing tension in the physical body helps free energy in our forms and vise versa. In this training it’s important to me that we learn to address the body in many different ways and to work in a more rich and holistic way.
What’s your favorite organ or system of the body?
Oh, don’t make me choose! It’s like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. I think what I find most fascinating is that even though we are made up of these seemingly separate body systems, no system acts alone. We are an interconnected, interdependent miraculous human system! The only division is the division made by the observer. Deep, right?!
What can students expect to get out of this training?
They can expect to learn a ton of information about how they are put together and very practical skills to help their students. They can expect to learn great self care techniques to prevent and heal from injuries. They can expect a fulfilling practice each day that helps them to embody all of the information that we learn. They can expect to be in a safe and supportive group of individuals with a sincere desire to learn and explore. Finally, and maybe most importantly, I think they can expect to have fun! The study of anatomy can be a blast!
Kristin Leal‘s teachings are infused with the miracle of the human body and the liberating potential of movement. Her unique and dynamic voice makes her classes a powerful blend of strong anatomical alignment and luminous vinyasa flow. In 2005 she created the Kaya Yoga 200- and 300-hour teacher training and has helped to graduate over 1,000 students through trainings and workshops around the world. In 2013 Kristin created MetaAnatomy, a series of classes, workshops and trainings that explore the dynamic beauty and poetry of who we are. Her hope is by combining the physical and energetic anatomies we help to form a rich view, experience and ultimately a celebration of our differences and an honoring of our connectedness.
Her teachers have included Sharon Gannon, David Life, Katchie Ananda, Adrienne Burke, Rodney Yee, Betsey Downing and Rod Stryker and their beautiful teachings, along with her students, continue to inspire her every day. Since 2006 she has been working with and studying under the teacher Yogiraj Alan Finger of ISHTA Yoga and has helped this yogi master translate his teachings to create his 300-Hour and ISHTA marma point teacher training. A licensed massage therapist since 1995 (Swedish Institute of Massage,) she also holds certifications in Reiki, Thai massage, neuromuscular and myofascial release, and is a co-author of the book The Yoga Fan (2003) and author of MetaAnatomy: Anatomy of a Yogi (2014), which was called a “luscious resource” by Rod Stryker and “smart and sassy” by Elena Brower. Please visit www.kristinleal.com for more details.