Leslie Kaminoff on Yoga Alliance, Anatomy Maps, and Free Will (#23)

Our guest in this episode is Leslie Kaminoff. Leslie is a yoga educator inspired by the tradition of T.K.V. Desikachar. He is an internationally recognized specialist with thirty seven years’ experience in the fields of yoga and breath anatomy. He leads anatomy and yoga methodology workshops for many of the leading yoga associations, schools and training programs in the world. Leslie’s book Yoga Anatomy, (co-authored with Amy Matthews), has been printed more than 12 times and has sold over 500,000 copies.

Leslie is the founder of The Breathing Project, a non-profit educational corporation dedicated to the teaching of individualized, breath-centered yoga practice and education. The Breathing Project currently teaches classes and advanced training programs out of its studio in New York City. From October to June, Leslie can be found teaching his highly respected year-long courses in Yoga Anatomy at The Breathing Project in NYC. His courses are also available online to a worldwide audience at yogaanatomy.net. 

Leslie and Jacob discussed a wide variety of topics, including his 37 years in the yoga scene, anatomy maps, what makes a good teacher, the role of free will, the relationship between purusa and prakriti, and the currently controversial topic of institutional abuses and responsibilities in the yoga community. 


  • How the Yoga "Scene" turned into an "Industry" over Leslie's years in the yoga world. 
  • The state of Yoga that spawned the birth of Yoga Alliance, and how Yoga Alliance evolved from a poorly run "Registry" (501c3) to when Richard Karpel became the President and Yoga Alliance became a "c5", which allows you to Lobby government.
  • How Leslie got into this lifelong study of anatomy and movement.
  • Remarks on the "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body" by William J. Broad
  • What you need to be a really good yoga teacher: "Willingness to open your eyes, open your heart, and to be with someone enough to know what's going right in their system, rather than what's going wrong."
  • Anatomy is a "story told with a sharp instrument", to go into the system in an precise way, which you can do with your consciousness (subtle anatomy) just as much as a sharp blade (Western anatomy).
  • Thoughts about how "trauma-sensitive yoga" is just good teaching pedagogy.
  • The role of Free Will in the context of being determined by a variety of internal and external factors.
  • Handing the inquiry back to the student.
  • The conundrum of the relationship between Purusha and Prakriti.
  • According to Kaminoff, the nature of our consciousness is the choice between focusing or un-focusing on any given aspect of our awareness. 
  • The subtle contradiction in certain feminist-inspired arguments around trauma sensitivity. 


 Jacob Kyle

Jacob Kyle

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