I spent an hour going through some of my Anatomy for Yoga lectures yesterday and it was fascinating. It left me with such mixed feelings. On one hand I feel much better about the parts of me that I consider "inflexible." I've always felt that I would never make a good yoga instructor because I'll "never be able to bend like that." I always thought it was because I just wasn't doing something right, or my muscles just aren't as limber as they should be. But I was completely wrong about that. In these lectures the instructor discusses the terms tension and compression. When you hit the wall and can no longer bend or flex your limbs any further it is because of one of those two terms. If it was tension, it would indeed be a tight muscle preventing you from stretching deeper. In these cases, the muscles can be worked on to increase the motion.
But much more often it is because of your bone structure. Literally one bone is hitting another which is called compression. In this case, no matter how much yoga you do, or how much you stretch, you're just never going to be able to move any further. This made me feel so much better about my yoga inadequacies. The instructor said repeatedly, "you either have it or you don't" meaning great flexibility. He also explained how everyone is built differently and how you could really hurt yourself if you don't understand this concept. The best part was watching him move a skeleton around to really understand what bones where hitting and how.
So that left me feeling much better about myself and what I can and can not do. However, it completely terrified me as far as instructing students through a class. How on earth will I know if they are hitting tension or compression? When you see a student not doing a pose 'properly' how do you know if you should try to make an adjustment or just assume they can't bend any more than they are already bending? I will be very happy to get my certification and I am really enjoying all this knowledge that I'm gaining, but I'm still not sure if I will ever be brave enough to put my certification to use. I have a whole new admiration for all you yoga instructors out there!