Functional Yoga Anatomy

functional yoga variations

Observe the unique distinctions between these two femurs, our thigh bones.

In this captivating image (with gratitude to Paul Grilley), we witness the inherent natural variations that manifest within our physical bone structures. These variations offer profound insights into why no two individuals can ever execute yoga poses in the exact same manner.

The diversity in our bone structure inevitably results in varying ranges of movement within our joints. This understanding forms the foundation of our functional approach in Yin yoga. Rather than fixating on superficial aesthetics & perfect alignment, we prioritize the experiential aspect by asking our students, “How does it feel?” This shift in focus allows us to tailor our guidance & support to your unique needs, ensuring a safe & fulfilling practice.

In our Yin yoga teaching, our focus rests upon the essence of each pose—the target, the access, & the intended stress—rather than its outward appearance. We honor the uniqueness of each student’s bone structure & employ variations that cater to their individual needs.

Take, for instance, the hip sockets. These marvels of anatomy can vary in placement, orientation, depth, & size, directly influencing the range of movement achievable in poses such as Straddle or Dragonfly. The position of your hip sockets determines how deeply you can move into a wide-leg split position. Those with hip sockets positioned at the side of the pelvis may access a greater range compared to those with sockets situated towards the front.

Similarly, the femur and hip socket relationship influences the folding forward action to access the groin. You may experience a subtle “catching” at the back edge of the hip, limiting your forward folding capacity.

While we may examine the position of the feet to gauge femur movement, the feet themselves are not the primary focus. Rather, they serve as conduits for expressing the hip movement. We may adjust the position of the feet to enhance femur mobility, ultimately targeting the groin area. For some individuals, a variation like Frog may be more suitable.

It is essential to recognize that both hand & foot positioning should support the pose based on the unique characteristics of our bones. Without this understanding, there is a risk of making incorrect assumptions & coercing individuals into conforming to a predetermined appearance, which could lead to discomfort or potential injury.

By prioritizing functionality, we navigate the intricate interplay between hands, feet, & the larger joints of the body. A functional approach allows us to explore individualized hand & foot placement tailored to access & stress the target area of our focus.

As Yin yoga teachers, our primary goal is to guide practitioners toward the functional embodiment of each pose. This means understanding the specific target & purpose of the pose, which varies based on each individual’s body mechanics & bone structure.

Your bone structure is unique, encompassing its own distinct movement patterns & even potential discrepancies between your body’s left & right sides.

Embracing the beauty of our differences, we, as teachers, may not always know what is best for your body. Our role is to provide knowledgeable guidance through optional variations, creating a safe space that empowers you to explore what works best for you. We encourage you to tune into your sensations, develop trust in your own ability to access the target & honor the messages your body communicates. This process nurtures a profound connection with your body, empowering you as the practitioner to embrace self-love & healthily nurture your body.

Dive deeper into functional yoga principles whilst gaining your Yin Yoga & Chinese Medicine Yoga Alliance Certification.



Want to share your passion for Yoga with others & now feel ready to begin your teaching career? We offer a Yoga Alliance 200-hr Vinyasa & Yin Yoga ‘equally balanced’ Training with three experienced lead teachers in Vinyasa, Yin Yoga & Anatomy. Following Yoga Alliance ethos for both styles with Training & Techniques, Philosophy, Subtle body, Anatomy, Teaching Tools, & practicums. Our 200-hr training is a sure way to begin your teaching in confidence.



Or maybe your focus is more on all the aspects of Yin Yoga? Including our role as teachers, practice teaching all seven archetypes, & explore the vast creative variations we can incorporate. Different anatomy is also included, where we further explore the Fascia system, particularly in relation to pain, & the Autonomic Nervous system. Also,both Spine & Shoulder anatomy & how this affects functional movement, together with diving deeper into Chinese Medicine.



Maybe teaching isn’t so important for you, but you still wish to learn more about Yin Yoga. This one-week program includes all the fundamentals: philosophy, meridians, principal Chinese Medicine & our well-being. We explore all 7 archetypes, have twice daily practices, & complimentary fascia techniques. Anatomy is also explored: fascia layers, holding patterns, Hip anatomy & effects on movement, functional yoga, & apply this to your body.

the yin yoga practice


Prefer to study an accredited Yin Yoga & Chinese Medicine training entirely at your own pace & in the comfort of your home, returning to your study as often as required. This online TTC  gently guides you through all the fundamental aspects of the Yin yoga practice, including essential philosophical & physiological aspects, the meridians, essential Anatomy, Teaching Tools, & how to place the theory into your Yin yoga with full class practices, with reflection on difficult emotions.

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