This page lists some workshops and trainings in yoga, anatomy and related topics taught by Leslie Kaminoff, both in-person and live-streamed.
An Introduction To Breath-Centered Yoga
Yoga practice in the tradition of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar exhibits many distinctive principles and practices not found in other Hatha Yoga lineages. Details of breath sequencing, coordination with movement and spinal action are just some of the subjects we will explore in this highly interactive, experiential and informative session.
Leslie will introduce these breath-centered teachings from a historical, scholarly and anatomical perspective while leading participants into a progressively deeper understanding of the vital forces at work in the human breathing mechanism during yoga practice.
Introduction to Healing Through Breath-Centered Yoga
Krishnamacharya’s and Desikachar’s therapeutic approach puts the central focus on two crucial elements: the breath, and the specific needs of the individual. In addition, promoting healing through yoga is based on the perspective that there’s always more going right for a person than has gone wrong. Working from these principles, Leslie will share what he has learned during the past four decades applying his teacher’s principles to working with groups and individuals.
Shushumna Nadi in Theory and Practice – The Central Pillar of Krishnamacharya’s Yoga
An organizing principle of Krishnamacharya’s breath-centered approach to yoga theory and practice involves the opening of the central channel of the energetic body – the Shushumna Nadi. Leslie’s uniquely anatomical and experiential perspective on this topic refers to this as “vertical axis integration.” This session will explore this idea in a practice sequence that integrates asana, kriya, bandha, mudra, pranayama. The session will conclude with a dhyana on the imagery derived from Krishnamacharya’s unique perspective on Prana/Apana, Kundalini and Agni.
Desikachar’s Revolution: The Breath, the Individual, the Relationship
In homage to the groundbreaking contributions of his teacher, Leslie will share rare footage of Desikachar explaining the key tenets of his approach to therapeutic yoga: an utmost respect for the individual, the central role of the breath in yoga practice, and above all, the definition of yoga as relationship.
Through inquiry, dialogue and a practice session that balances structure with free-form improvisation, students will have an opportunity to truly connect to the “Heart of Yoga.”
Demystifying The Bandhas
The popularity of vinyasa-based yoga practice has created a wide interest in the theory and practice of Mula, Uddiyana and Jalandhara Bandha – the “yogic locks.” In this workshop, Leslie applies his unique, experiential approach to clarify and, above all, simplify the practical, anatomical basis of these powerful, yet widely misunderstood tools.
The good news is the moment you first learned to coordinate breath and body movement, you were immediately, implicitly learning bandhas. From this perspective, deepening your yoga consists of nothing more than uncovering our innate ability to find support and spaciousness through breath-centered practice.
The Most Powerful Breath You’ll Ever Take
…is your very first breath. It transforms your entire physiology from its non-breathing, non-eating fetal state to that of an independent entity that must oxygenate its own blood, seek out its own nutrition, eliminate its waste and navigate a world of gravity and space. For the rest of our lives, we will have to negotiate this intricate dance between our internal and external spaces.
A breath-centered yoga practice offers you the opportunity to take the second-most transformational breaths you will ever take, and that is the specific goal of this workshop. Through inspiration, education and reflection, Leslie Kaminoff will lead you through a series of practices that will forever transform your relationship to your breathing body.
This highly interactive workshop relies on students to bring questions about their own asana practice and teaching language. Leslie will promote an experimental, experiential atmosphere of inquiry regarding the teaching of alignment, safety and effective cueing of asana.
The session begins with an historical and anatomical perspective on the subject and functional definition of alignment. Then, an exploration of the uniqueness of human structure will lead to the understanding that “asanas don’t have alignment – people have alignment.”
Starting with clear, simple principles that govern musculoskeletal function, Leslie will help you put your asana on a solid foundation literally from the ground up (and from your head down). Topics include:
- The fundamental importance of proprioception and interoception
- Functional principles of alignment
- Breath-centered, anatomically-based cueing
- The relationship of bandha to support and movement
- Why instructions like “tuck your tail,” “lengthen your spine,” “square your hips” may be doing more harm than good, and what kind of language to use instead
- The use of gazing (drishti) and imagery to foster increased neuromuscular integration
Awakening Our Inner Resources – Proprioception and Interoception in Yoga Education
By recognizing the fundamental job of a yoga teacher is to help students re-inhabit their bodies, we can make a few key changes to transform our teaching language into a more empowering experience for our students. Specific classroom strategies that promote better body awareness will be re-imagined and demonstrated for commonly-taught practices. A discussion of long and short term skill-sequencing will also help prioritize teaching choices for students of every level of experience.
The Warrior Series – A Hands-Free Vinyasa Practice
If you like a strong, flowing, breath-centered yoga practice, but have done more than a few too many down dogs, up dogs and chaturangas, then this is the class for you. This practice-heavy workshop will lead you through a specially-designed vinyasa that strongly works the legs and moves the spine in all possible directions, all without putting any body weight on your hands.
This session can be extended into two parts, with part one focusing on the relationship of breath to movement, while introducing the basic movement principles of the sequence. Additionally, the use of breath cueing to achieve alignment and safety objectives will be covered through exploring individual adaptation and modification.
Building on the basics covered in part one, part two covers the full sequence of poses in the Warrior Series with an emphasis on the details of alignment. In particular, we will experiment with how to individualize breath and asana cueing for groups of any size, as well as how to modify the practice for individual therapeutic objectives. The vinyasa will be practiced twice, the first time flowing through non-stop, and the second time breaking down the myriad possibilities for individual adaptation.
Non-Linear Asana Flow – Escaping the Tyranny of the Rectangle
Learning the simple geometries of classic asana is a great starting point for the physical aspect of yoga practice, just as learning scales on a piano is a necessary foundation to playing music. This is a workshop that tunes into the music of the body, by honoring the spirals, fluids and asymmetries inherent in our organic forms. We will practice in a way that seeks more balance in our systems by honoring the complementary forces of order and chaos, inquiry and technique, form and function.
Forward-Bending: Stretching the Back Line
In Sanskrit, the back of the body is referred to as “Paschima,” meaning “West” – therefore Paschima Uttanasana, or Paschimottanasana, is the practice of elongating the posterior line of the body’s myofascia. Unfortunately, some of the most common alignment instructions that are given in forward bending do not produce an evenly distributed lengthening of these structures, resulting in a perpetuation of chronic tightness in the very areas the poses seek to release.
This workshop will provide a solid grounding in the posterior line of the body from both an anatomical and a yogic perspective. We will also practice a variety of breath-based movements and alignment strategies that are guaranteed to move you forward in a whole new way.
Better Backbends Through Breathing
Is backbending about moving backwards in space or is it about changing the shape of the spine? What role does the breath play in entering into and remaining in these challenging poses? How we answer these fundamental questions will determine our goals and experiences when we practice backbending.
In this fun and informative workshop, we will explore the definition of backbending from the viewpoint of the body’s full range of anatomical possibilities – from world-class contortionists to average citizens. We will also practice several key asanas and vinyasas that will permit us to use the breath in a variety of creative ways to enhance and deepen the opening of our bodies to these delicious shapes.
Arm Supports Reimagined: Open Chains and Spirals
In the grand scheme of sequencing the skill acquisition of asana practice, Leslie considers arm-supported asanas to be intermediate level skills. He will explain the anatomical basis of this view, and propose a radically different method of entering into these challenging poses by working with the spiraling lines of myofascial support in the arms while preparing the upper extremities to support our body weight through open kinetic chain movements.
Twist, Don’t Break – Twisting Poses, From the Inside Out
Axial rotation is the anatomical term for twisting of the spine. Understanding the structural core of twisting postures, known in yoga as “Parivritti,” reveals the critical role that breathing plays in safely accomplishing these complex movements.
In this practice-oriented workshop, Leslie will review the key structures of the spine and breathing mechanism that can contribute to (or sometimes interfere with) the twisting actions of the body. The positions of sitting, standing and supine will be explored, as well as the role of binding and twisting’s effects on our physiology.
The Yoga of the Foot: How to be a Better Biped
As mammals of the genus homo, we have been walking erect for about 2 million years. Yet, in what amounts to an evolutionary blink of an eye, natural organic ground has literally been pulled out from under us, as we have leveled, paved, and otherwise smoothed out the unpredictable terrain our feet evolved upon. Add to this insult the injury of restrictive footwear and we in the industrialized world have an epidemic of physical ills that can be traced back to our compromised foundations.
This workshop will delve deeply into the history, structure, function and retraining of our feet as the foundation for a healthy asana practice and for living more fully functional lives as happy bipeds.
Mahamudra and The Sage’s Seat – The Anatomy and Physiology of the Central Axis
A cornerstone of breath-centered yoga in the tradition of Krishnamacharya, the practice of Mahamudra is considered to be a bridge between Asana and Pranayama. In addition to the seated practice that bears its name, the principle of Mahamudra is invoked whenever strong axial extension of the spine is accomplished through the action of the bandhas.
This workshop will employ a breath-centered practice sequence the purpose of which is to reveal our body’s inherent structural equilibrium. This builds towards a unique experience of “central channel” breath movement, which arises when our metabolic requirements are reduced to a minimum along with our breathing.
An accompanying discussion will review the anatomical and physiological basis for the experience of sushumna, kundalini and related yogic concepts.
The OM Workshop – The Yoga of Sound, Breath, Resonance and Vibration
In a yoga class, one of the first opportunities for students to connect with their teacher is through a shared “OM” but how often do we pay as much attention to the details of this sound as we do to the nuance of asana? Leslie will deconstruct the phonetics of this complex, resonant, sacred vibration with a review of the phonetic map of the mouth embedded in the Sanskrit alphabet. He will lead students in a simple chanting practice to blend exploration of the relationship between sound, physical support and movement.
Inquiry vs. Technique in The Classroom – The Sthira and Sukha of Teaching Yoga
Teaching yoga techniques without a spirit of inquiry can be overly reductionistic and didactic. But promoting a spirit of inquiry without the structure and boundaries of specific techniques can lead to students feeling lost and confused. This workshop addresses strategies for balancing this dynamic dichotomy in the classroom, with sample sequences and interactive discussion.
Workshops in support of Teacher Training courses
The following are some of the workshops that Leslie offers designed to help deepen, integrate and cement the basic anatomy material taught in Teacher Training programs. Leslie is always open to created something bespoke for your teaching tradition and TT program. Use the contact form to make this request.
NOTE: If you are just developing your Teacher Training curriculum and looking for the anatomy component, Leslie Kaminoff & Amy Matthews, best-selling co-authors of Yoga Anatomy, have developed a fun, fresh, immediately applicable and inspiring resource: YogaAnatomy.net Fundamentals for YTTs, pre-approved by the Yoga Alliance!
Breath and Spine: A 3-Dimensional Perspective(Fundamentals Unit 2: The Breath and Unit 4: The Spine) This sessions looks at breath cueing in asana practice. Typically inhaling is linked to spinal extension (back-bending) and exhaling to spinal flexion (forward-bending). While these standard cues are an ideal way to introduce the idea of connecting breath to movement, there are many other possibilities. This workshop will present a series of explorations that explores those possibilities, opens the breath and spine to new dimensions of freedom, and highlights the unique nature of individual experience in yoga practice.
Bones, Muscles and Structural Diversity(Fundamentals Unit 9: Anatomy in Asana + Vinyasa) This visually-rich workshop will present a wealth of evidence that confirms the absolute uniqueness of each individual. From the shape of our bones, to the tapestry of our myofascia, we will explore the inner landscape of our singular structure and function through asana and vinyasa. We will explore how each individual has a different experience of basic poses, how to confidently lead a group class while allowing for these differences, and suggest simple breath and alignment modifications that can make practice safer and more effective.
Alignment and Breath Cueing for Individuals in Group Practice(Fundamentals Special Topics for Teachers) You can’t personally keep every student in your class safe, but you can help them learn how to keep themselves safe. By practicing mindful teaching language, imagery and open-ended pacing, we will explore how students in a class of any size can have a truly individual experience. A variety of strategies will be demonstrated and discussed in the context of a simple practice session.
The Human Foot: Strengthening Strategies On and Off the Mat(Fundamentals Unit 5: The Lower Limbs) Even a tiny bit of change in something we do a lot of adds up to a tremendous amount of change – and walking is something we do a lot of. This workshop will be based on the basic architecture and function of the human foot, and reveal why everyone in the industrialized world needs to take extra care of their feet. We will review simple, effective techniques for introducing foot awareness strengthening into group practice, and discuss strategies for developing healthier gait habits off the mat.
The Diaphragm: Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions About Yogic Breathing(Fundamentals Unit 2: The Breath) There is perhaps no structure in the human body whose function is more widely misunderstood than the respiratory diaphragm. The diaphragm has been mislabeled in anatomy books, mislocated in people’s imaginations, and misunderstood in terms of its three-dimensional action. Using a unique blend of props, animation, x-ray footage and imagery, this workshop will leave you with a vastly deeper appreciation of the form and function of this amazing structure. You will never think, feel or talk about breathing the same way afterwards. Be prepared to have some of you basic assumptions about breathing deeply challenged, and find more opportunities for freedom and possibility.
BOS-COG-ROM – How to Build an Asana from the Ground Up(Fundamentals Unit 7: Anatomy in Asana + Asana Philosophy) Base of Support, Center of Gravity, Range of Motion – this is Leslie’s signature hierarchy of key considerations when consciously constructing a yoga pose. If the base is not stable, there is no foundation upon which to build. If there is no organized center of gravity, there is no efficiency of effort. If the prior two factors are not integrated, the body’s natural range of motion will be compromised. In this lesson, we will learn how to view a variety of poses from this perspective in order to prioritize possible adaptations and adjustments for individual needs.
THE YOGA OF SOUND AND PHONETICS – POWER, EXPRESSION, ARTICULATION
(Fundamentals Unit 2: The Breath)
For a yoga teacher there is no tool more fundamental than the voice. Understanding how to support and articulate our breath so it becomes a better vehicle for communication is the purpose of this workshop. Using the structure of Sanskrit phonetics as a starting place, we will examine how the voice works, and how the anatomy of the mouth, tongue, pharynx and vocal cords all coordinate to produce sound and speech. Video footage of vocal cords in action, as well as unique MRI recordings of vocal performers will be also be utilized.
THE OM WORKSHOP – BREATH, RESONANCE, VIBRATION
(Fundamentals Special Topics for Teachers and Extras + Just for Fun)
Yoga teachers do a considerable amount of OM’ing, but have they ever approached the chanting of OM as a practice in itself? This playful worksop will deconstruct and reassemble everything you thought you knew about this sacred, powerful diphthong. In the process, we will learn a lot about the relaxed use of the breath, the healing power of the exhale, and the efficient use of the entire respiratory system. Your OM will never be the same.
4-day, 24-hour Yoga Anatomy Workshop
Leslie has created a signature 24-hour Yoga Anatomy Workshop, during which he presents a series of topics over four sequential days.
Day 1: Breathing as Shape-Change
The anatomy and pressure mechanics of breathing, the three diaphragms and the thoracic and abdominal muscles.
Day 2: The Spine – Nature’s Masterpiece of Sthira and Sukha
Covers the evolution and anatomy of spinal mechanics, the development of postural support and articular freedom.
Day 3: Our Articular Selves – Limbs of Locomotion and Evolution
Deals with the articular anatomy of the limbs, pelvic and shoulder girdles and explores issues surrounding locomotion and arm support.
Day 4: Hands-On Assisting Lab
In the Hands-On Assisting Lab, Leslie Kaminoff will share teaching techniques he’s developed over the past 34 years of working therapeutically with groups and individuals. Some of the explorations will be:
- Verbal cuing of breath-centered alignment adjustments
- Administering powerful yet safe and gentle hands-on adjustments
- Advanced techniques for breath release, based on Leslie’s unique shape-change model of breath
- Principles of individual modification, adaptation and sequencing
- Shifting teaching language from a form-oriented to a function-oriented foundation
This workshop will involve demonstrations, supervised partner exchanges and group practice of asana and breath.