Go-To Sources on Consciousness, Brain Science, and Anatomy
CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE BRAIN
When I asked one of my teachers years ago, "what meditation technique is best?" he answered, "the one that you'll do." There are innumerable online resources out there to help jumpstart or continue your meditation practice.
IMEDITATE WITH ERICH (app)
For both beginning and advanced meditators, this app has over 20 different guided meditations and talks by Erich Schiffmann, recorded live. You select the meditation talk you'd like to glide you into the meditation, then select the duration of the silent time you desire. The "advanced" option lets you select the duration and the only sound is Erich's beautiful bell to mark the beginning and the end of your meditation.
The acclaimed author of Radical Acceptance is an exquisite meditation teacher who makes all kinds of great material available on her website, including beautiful guided meditations.
This website, run by a long-time meditator Elisabeth Blaikie, has dozens of heart-centered meditations
CHOPRA CENTER GUIDED MEDITATIONS
The Chopra Center has free downloads via podcasts on iTunes of scores of guided meditations. The Chopra Center is run by Deepak Chopra, MD and David Simon MD.
INSIGHT MEDITATION CENTER
This website, run by a community-based urban meditation center in Redwood, CA, focuses on “Vipassana” or “insight meditation” guided by Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella.
I'm fascinated with how science is catching up to spirit and helping us find a common language to understand consciousness. I've only just begun to tap into this rich vein of inquiry, but here are the authors that currently inspire.
BESSEL VAN DER KOLK, M.D.
There is probably no one single book more fundamental to informing our modern understanding of the treatment of trauma than van der Kolk's book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.
BRUCE LIPTON, PHD
This guy blows me away. He has done the best job I've seen so far of explaining, in lay terms, the budding science of epigenetics which turns everything you thought you knew about biology and genetic destiny on its head. His book, The Biology of Belief, sparked my own amateur inquiry into the science of consciousness.
DR. JOE DISPENZA
Dr. Dispenza is a chiropractor and scientific researcher who explores the science behind spontaneous remissions and how people heal themselves of chronic conditions and even terminal diseases. He partners with other scientists to perform research on the effects of meditation during his advanced workshops. I've read two of his books, You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter and Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and can't yet get enough of learning about what this guy is on to.
NORMAN DOIDGE, MD
This is the pioneer in the field of neuroplasticity. In one of his many books, The Brain That Changes Itself, he explored the brain's ability to rewire itself. Doidge is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, researcher, author, essayist and poet.
Also? I've got a bug in my bonnet about digital health, bringing our senses back to life, and the value of unplugging. With the help of friends, I've curated nuggets of scholarship on those subjects here.
Feet and Legs
A must-have go-to book and web resource for all aspects of the brilliant "anatomy trains model."
Everything these folks do is worthwhile - from online visualization tools and mini-videos to the beautifully illustrated books on key muscles of yoga, key poses of yoga, and more.
DAVID KEIL'S YOGANATOMY
David Keil is a wicked cool Ashtangi who's made it his job to demystify and un-complicate the study of anatomy. His video series and refreshingly readable book is the single most helpful resource I've run across when it comes to making the study and understanding of anatomy as it applies to asana practice. Plus, David has an exquisite sense of humor.
FASCIA AND SELF-HEALING
Introduction to “Antara” - a method for releasing and mobilizing scar tissue in the body. The method is a new, emerging modality for the treatment of chronic pain.
FASCIA RESEARCH GROUP
A small research group at the leading edge of work on fascia. This group is part of the Neurosurgical Clinic Günzburg of Ulm University in Germany.
GIL HEDLEY INTEGRAL ANATOMY SERIES
You can watch videos online for free or purchase DVDs to watch at your convenience. Each volume of this series presents the anatomy of human form, layer by layer, from an integral, whole body perspective.
This is a useful and easy-to-understand page explaining the myofascial meridians in easy, lay terms.
VISIBLE BODY (apps)
This is a kickass great series of apps that enable viewing and drilling down into and seeing nearly all aspects of human anatomy - from muscles and the circulatory system to the endocrine and nervous system and more. They're not the cheapest apps you'll find out there, but they are among the best.
Yoga anatomy educator Leslie Kaminoff's succinct video explanation of the benefits of bare feet — and how hard our feet have to work to get necessary proprioceptive information when we continually jam them into shoes.
CONNECTING TO YOUR FEET IN YOGA
Our dear friends at Daily Bandha offer Ray Long’s brilliant summary discussion and usual fantastic visuals about anatomy basics as they relate to the feet in yoga postures.
FOOT AND ANKLE MOVEMENT IN MOTION
This is a three-minute video with accessible-to-mere-mortals visuals plus an audio explaining ankle and foot movement.
FOOT PLACEMENT - TIBIAL TORSION
I like the illustrations and explanation in this gem and the debunking of the notion that there is one 'ideal' alignment for every body, particularly when it comes to foot placement
HEALTHLINE BODY MAPS WITH INTERACTIVE VISUALS
This is especially helpful for visual learners.
THE INCREDIBLE HUMAN FOOT - BBC
This is a four part video series — be advised that contains graphic scenes involving human dissection so if that oogs you out, you may want to steer clear. If it doesn't oog you out, this is a fascinating way to see all the parts and pieces and their connections to each other.
UNDERSTANDING KNEE HYPEREXTENSION
Nina Zolotow, on the Yoga for Healthy Aging Blog, has some tips and tricks for safeguarding knee health in yoga poses. There are some helpful ideas here for cues in standing poses to ensure knee safety.
YOGA AND FASCIA - FOOT CONNECTIONS
An article jam-packed with useful links and practical tips on yoga and fascia, particularly as it has an impact on the foot. It includes a tutorial on the interconnection of body parts - "why foot pain is connected to neck pain" and so on. Very good.
YOGA THERAPY FOR YOUR KNEES
In this Yoga International article, Doug Keller offers a simple anatomy lesson, isometric exercises, and information about how to attend to alignment in standing poses.
ANATOMY OF THE PELVIS
Designed for artists (!), his is a very fun video of pelvic anatomy. It explains how the bony structures are formed. The visuals are extremely helpful showing what each part does, how it moves - and from different angles. While its purpose is to help artists draw the pelvis, it's one of the coolest things to learn the basics of the pelvis. Best of all, whoever made this video had a sense of humor.
This woman challenges the paradigm that pelvic floor strength is about Kegels. “Suggested tattoo for trainers, therapists, and athletes: Tighter does not equal stronger. It’s just tighter.” Katy Bowman said that. Intrigued? I am.
NUTATION AND COUNTERNUTATION DEMYSTIFIED
David Keil is a master at demystifying movement patterns in anatomy that can leave mere mortals feeling lost. This is just one example of that gift in action.
PELVIC FLOOR YOGA
I like Leslie Howard's deep dive into exploring the pelvic floor through yoga. Definitely check out her website.
Written by dancer and choreographer Eric Franklin, this book brings together scientific principles, movement, and imagery exercises focused on toning the pelvic floor. He has a website too.
Doug Keller did us a huge favor with this primer on the piriformis. Like everything Doug writes or teaches, it's concise, it's clear, and it's packed practical strategies and tips to understand how to ensure a muscle is doing its job properly.
THE FEMALE PELVIS
A book by Blandine Calais-Germain on the functional anatomy of the pelvis and its response to pregnancy and childbirth. The book includes specific exercises aimed at increasing flexibility, strength, and coordination of pelvic functions.
THE PSOAS BOOK
By Liz Koch, this is a fantastic and user friendly comprehensive guide to the Iliopsoas muscle and its influence on emotions, body, and mind.
THE WHOLE WOMAN
A website and audio interview with Christine Kent, RN offering alternative approaches in thinking about and managing issues including pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and chronic hip pain.
UNTUCKING THE TAIL
A short and easy-to-understand tutorial on the value of remembering to untuck that tail.
Head, Neck, and Shoulders
BONES OF THE SKULL
This is a great, basic page that lays out the ABCs of the bony structures of the head.
BONES AND SUTURES OF THE SKULL - VISUALIZED
This short four-minute video is a marvelous introduction to the fascinating and surprisingly intricate nature of the many parts of the human skull.
BRAIN - NORMAN DOIDGE
The field of neuroplasticity is growing by leaps and bounds (thankfully), and Norman Doidge earns deep bows from manyu of us, and from everyone in that field, for having introduced the lay reader to the idea that the brain is not fixed — that it is neuroplastic with the adaptive ability to reorganize itself.
CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY BASICS
For anyone new to the field of craniosacral therapy, this page offers an easy-to-understand essay on its history and the principles of the key dimensions of this modality.
Dr. Baxter Bell on what we know, and what we don't know, about frozen shoulder and what can be done therapeutically if you or a student is dealing with it.
NECK TENSION AND YOGA
My new friend Gernot Huber created this 16-minute video game-changing video on neck tension and yoga practice. It is an intelligently sequenced lesson to enhance awareness of what you're doing with your neck during your practice. Only through awareness can we unlearn old patterns learn to engage the correct muscle groups to reduce, rather than reinforce, neck tension.
NECK ORGANIZATION - VISUALIZED
Nice little video showing how the neck is organized.
PROTECTING THE NECK IN BACKBENDS
What would we do without Doug Keller? This video and the accompanying article detail the risks that come from cranking the neck back into cervical extension in backbends, which moves the emphasis away from the upper spine (good) into the neck (bad). Great tips on neck safety and healthy alignment here!
Understanding this amazing muscle — and how learning to properly engage it in common yoga poses — goes a long way to keeping the shoulder safe. Once again, it's Doug Keller that offers a series of intelligent sequences to supersize awareness of this muscle. I love the serratus pushups.
SHOULDERS IN DOWNWARD FACING DOG
Thank you, my anatomy hero, David Keil, for this sublime piece that helps break down all the different elements to staying safe in down dog.
I adore this article. It summarizes not only how the shoulder works, but offers specific suggestions on how to avoid shoulder injuries in yoga.