Why Study Yoga Anatomy?

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

Anatomy is the study of the structure and function of the human body, broken down into its parts. Anatomy is the study of the components that create a unified whole.

If you wanted to become a great artist, you would want to know how to blend colors. You would need to know the component parts of yellow and blue, if you wanted to paint something green. If you want to move your body in a complex movement, you would want to know the structure and function of the parts of the body involved in the movement.

For instance, if you were trying to learn that cool thing that good cooks do where they flip the food into the air from a sauté pan and catch it again, someone may tell you “it’s just a flick of the wrist.” Once you start focusing on the little wrist flick you need to create this movement, you find yourself flipping flapjacks with ease. A little anatomical thought goes a long way.

As a kid, when you first start sneaking around or trying not to wake someone up, you are advised to “tip-toe” your way through the halls. At first this is awkward, but the body adapts quickly to the new movement. Learning to ride a bike you are told to “just keep pedaling,” and you’ve just learned a little bit about physics! A moving bike is easier to balance. In P.E. class, if you’ve ever done pull-ups and chin-ups, you may remember that pull-ups (palms facing you) are WAY easier than chin-ups (palms away). This is a straightforward anatomical fact, that you get to really use your biceps brachii muscle in a pull-up. It’s the same reason why all doors open by twisting to the right, or why it’s easier to tighten a screw or a lid than it is to open it (next time you have a lid on a jar that’s REALLY stuck, try opening it left handed! And try not to spill anything….).

Anatomy is relevant to all aspects of life.

You have a body. Any activity you want to accomplish is going to be carried out by your body (except of course in circumstances of disability, in which case your brain is still calling the shots, so neuro-anatomy suddenly becomes really important!).

Anatomy and fitness transformed my life.

There was about a decade of my life when my relationship with my body was one of constant abuse, resentment, and pain. This was while I suffered through drug and alcohol abuse. The only association I had with my body was negative. The only exception to that was using drugs to numb the pain of having a body. This was hell.

Drunk, hungover, shaking and sweating, fearfully I went to a yoga class. The teacher instructed me to do things like “push through the ball of my foot,” “take a deep breath,” or “sit up proud.” I had an experience of feeling like I accomplished something remarkable in that simple class. I made the monumental achievement of doing something positive with my body, and the effect was HUGE. I definitely cried through my sweat a few times, and in that sweet savasana at the end of class.

For the first time in AGES, I experienced a positive association with my body. I was hooked. I went to at least 12 classes in 7 days during my “FREE intro week”. I soon became absolutely fascinated with the amazing ability of yoga teachers to suggest doing some tiny and specific thing with my body, and how it yielded amazingly accurate results. I almost thought they were psychics for a second, the way they seemed to know my body better than I did!

For me, learning more and more about my body, my own chemistry, and about the structure and function of various parts of my body gave me new tools with which to explore the world. It taught me how to move fluidly, and pain free. It continues to teach me new ways to manage stress, and pain. It continues to baffle and inspire me, and make me wonder. It makes me want to share this with others.

Yoga is a process of self-inquiry. We seek to understand our mind better, so we can find a state of inner peace or happiness. When the body is in pain, or it is anxious or depressed, it is nearly impossible to find inner peace. First we must take care of our body.

The amazing thing is – sometimes in moments of deeply concentrated movement and effort, the inner stillness and profound sense of peace and wellbeing just arises from nowhere, like it was buried deep in the knots and tangled fibers of your soft tissues, and just by moving and stretching and breathing and laughing and flowing, this inner peace suddenly springs forth from its imprisonment and overwhelms you with its transformational power.

This is why I study movement and anatomy. It’s a gateway to a subtler understanding of our deep inner nature.


Keep moving

Axis Yoga Trainings Graduate


The Yoga of Cleansing & Four Tips for Increased Vitality

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

Cleansing has become almost a household word these days. There are many reported and researched health benefits that come from cleansing such as improved digestion, reduced inflammation, dislodging environmental toxins and losing weight.

However, I believe there are even more benefits to be gained from doing a cleanse.

Cleansing gives us access to expanded mental clarity and a renewed sense of inner freedom.  We all have the tendency to eat more from our emotions and habits than our bellies. When we set aside our ingrained eating patterns, we become more conscious of our unconscious habits.

Expanding awareness is a cornerstone of yoga practice, and there are many other yogic principles that we can exercise when doing a cleanse.

The Sanskrit word “tapas ” means “to burn” and refers to austerities or discipline. By restraining our  lower desires and urges, we build a kind of creative friction that gives insight, inspiration, builds character and supports spiritual growth.  Tapas has less to do with deprivation and more to do with creating boundaries that bring forth inner radiance.

Another major theme in yoga is “soucha” or “purity”.  Given adequate support your body naturally wants to return to an optional state of cleanliness and efficiency.

By releasing the accumulated toxic load of ongoing unconscious eating habits we open the gateway for a deeper state of health and long forgotten purity.  It’s like letting go of a “heavy load” we had no idea we were carrying for so long.

Doing a cleanse is less of an exercise in deprivation as it is an opportunity to revitalize your mind, strengthen your will and do a deep internal “cleanse”.  We can access the bodies deep healing capacities by simple removing the obstacles to cure, by eliminating less than wholesome foods and introducing foods that are more conducive to vitality.

Here are four tips to get you started with a spring time cleanse:

1.) Drink hot lemon water in the morning

Get your day started with a refreshing and vitalizing glass of hot lemon water.  It is amazing how this simple beverage will pick you up. It helps alkalize your system, and cleanse your liver.

What’s more, hot lemon water will stimulate your bowels and get things moving.  Many people do not drink enough water in general and making a ritual of drinking this beverage early in the morning is a great reminder of how amazing water is for your health!

2.) Eat at least 2 cups of vegetables a day plus salads

In my naturopathic doctoring practice, many people tell me that they have an aversion to eating vegetables.  They also come to see me with significant health issues, many of which can be greatly offset with dietary changes -such as eating more vegetables.

While your tongue may disagree, your body loves vegetables and rings with satisfaction once fed what it needs.  Eating a sufficient amount of vegetables will also off-set cravings for foods that are far less nutritious or even detrimental to one’s health.

3.) Include a little protein with each meal

Often times sugar-cravings are rooted in not eating a sufficient amount of protein.  If you find yourself feeling hostage to sugary foods there is a good chance you are in need of more protein.  Eating enough protein will help you balance your blood sugar and give you a more even-quality of energy throughout the day.  Getting enough protein also helps you eat less refined carbohydrates.

4.) Try fasting one day a week

Many cultures and spiritual traditions throughout the world recognize the value of fasting as a way to cleanse the body, revitalize the spirit and develop humility and gratitude.  Fasting is also a great way to give your digestive system a much needed rest. Your body will naturally go to work cleaning house with the energy it would otherwise expend digesting food.

Generating the necessary discipline to fast also rubs off in other areas of your life.  It gives you the inner strength to address other issues that you may have been avoiding, freeing up energy that could be spent more productively.

Note: You can still have juices, broths, teas and water while performing a weekly fast.


Try on these simple tips and see what they do for your health and your yoga practice. If you are ready to take it to the next level, consider getting some outside support and supplementation by participating in a 10-day cleanse group I will be facilitating.  Cleansers of all levels are welcome!

In Health,
Dr. Brenna


Spring Cleanse

Click here to learn more!

Dates: Sundays, March 18 and 25.  11-12:30

Location: Sixth Ave. UCC – 3250 E. Sixth Ave. 80206

Cost: In the Spirit of Axis’ Mission to make it’s offerings inclusive and accessible, the cost is $108-$198 and includes both meetings, a booklet, recipes, and supplements.

Registration:  Call Dr. Brenna 303-320-1174 |  doctorbrenna@gmail.com