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Book Review: Structural Yoga Therapy

Yoga wellness educator. Certified to teach Hatha yoga, meditation, pilates, and Reiki. Oracle card reader. Yoga Therapy Foundations program.


The Author

Mukunda Stiles wrote the Structural Yoga Therapy book. He also authored an interpretation of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and The Yoga Poet.

Stiles started studying yoga in 1969. In 1974, he met his teacher Swami Muktananda who initiated him into a deeper level of spiritual life. He passed away on February 18, 2014.

The Book

The Structural Yoga Therapy book was first published in 2000 by Red Wheel/Weiser LLC who are in San Francisco, California. The hardcover paper print costs US$75. This 344-page book includes six parts divided into thirty-three chapters, as well as an accurate index, a bibliography, and the author’s bio.

Twenty figures, seven tables, and multiple drawings demonstrate the author’s deep understanding of anatomy and kinesiology. Kinesiology science studies how specific muscles and bones interact when a person moves, which helps yogis and yoginis understand how each posture influences their body.

Intended for yoga teachers and committed yogis and yoginis, this book teaches how to use yoga to bring health and balance to one’s own body or that of a student. Beginning yoga students can find useful suggestions to consider when choosing a yoga style and a yoga teacher.

Six Parts

Part 1 is about the origins and theory of yoga practice.

Part 2 prepares for the practice.

Part 3 details the benefits of yoga practice.

Part 4 goes into anatomy-based yoga.

Part 5 details the postures.

Part 6 has the most chapters. Stiles shares his secrets and experience in using yoga therapy for specific purposes such as improving posture, increasing strength, managing stress, finding relief from pain, strengthening the immune system, and how to develop a spiritual practice with meditation.

One on One instruction.

One on One instruction.


Structural Yoga Therapy is a trademarked practice of 24 asanas and the Joint and Spine Freeing Series (JFS) of exercises to strengthen muscles.

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The foundation of this approach to health is Adapting to the Individual. In-depth knowledge of these 24 asanas, breathing methods, and the Joint Freeing Series can help the yoga teacher design a personalized program for optimal health and the promotion of healing.

Every mental state creates a corresponding state in the body, and every action in the body has its corresponding effect on the mind.

— Swami Vivekananda

Multidimensional Aspect

Humans are multidimensional beings who have many parts and connections to many dimensions.

According to M. Stiles, “The yogic view of anatomy indicates that we are multidimensional beings... The yogic perspective is to consider all pain as having its source in a lack of understanding of our selves.”


Ayurveda is the basis for the Structural Yoga Therapy model. It aims to manage and unite body, mind, and spirit using an interconnected approach by giving special importance to diet, postures, breathing methods, and meditation.

Stiles bases his model on the koshas that are yogic illustrations of human anatomy. The koshas are the distinct layers of a person. They give a full explanation and design a strategy to become healthy and whole.

The koshas are a model to explain the different qualities that make us human. The word kosha means sheath or level. In the koshic model, the goal of yoga therapy is to bring the koshas into balance. If one kosha is out of balance, it can influence the other koshas unsuitably. This book teaches yoga therapists to test koshic imbalances and teach personalized practices to balance them.

The advantage of yoga therapy over mainstream yoga is that it pays special attention to the individual. It is about people, not conditions. Working with clients as individuals is important as they require different practices to help manage their health and their condition(s).


This book was required reading as part of my current training in the BDYT Yoga Therapy Foundations Program (200 hours). I studied it thoroughly and found the information and the illustrations quite valuable.

Yoga teachers and those who are dedicated to their yoga routine would benefit from reading and studying it. It is packed with useful information and a comprehensive analysis of the relations of bones to muscles and how to use specific postures to balance the body.

Postures are explained meticulously with associated illustrations. There are tables that I have not seen elsewhere such as the one for Muscular Imbalances Revealed By Posture or the Kinesiology of Yogasanas. These tables are of interest to physical therapists and other bodyworkers.

Individuals who are not interested in anatomy-based yoga might find this book challenging with its technical knowledge of muscles, joints, and ranges of motions. These individuals would benefit more by contacting a qualified yoga therapist for their yoga routine.

I give the Structural Yoga Therapy book two thumbs up overall.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on January 29, 2021:

Nice review.

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