The thing about anatomy is that, to get a glimpse of the real thing, you have to remove all the qualities about it that are interesting in the first place. That is to say, studying anatomy in the classical sense means it has to be dead. Otherwise, how do you get the skin off to see what is underneath? But then again, if it is dead, it is intrinsically devoid of the animating properties of interest. What a conundrum!
As yogis, most of us aren’t particularly interested in dead tissue. We usually come to anatomy out of an interest in how the live body works, and as such we find that it is intrinsically hidden from view by a continuum of skin! But is this skin necessarily a veil, hiding the important “bits and pieces” that really matter? In my approach to learning anatomy for yoga, the skin is a conveniently smooth canvas for getting to grips with what lies beneath.
Because we aren’t working with dead tissue, it makes more sense to see the skin as the meaningful system that it is, the largest organ of the human body in fact. Skin and the underlying layers of fat and fascia are part of a gliding interface that works in conjunction with the connective tissues that invest the rest of the body. Painting onto the skin, we can explore surface anatomy landmarks and then play with how these landmarks change during movement.