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Health & Fitness Yoga

Your Upper Body, Your Yoga

Including Asymmetries & Proportions of the Whole Body

by (author) Bernie Clark

Wild Strawberry Productions
Initial publish date
Mar 2022
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2022
    List Price

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Your Upper Body, Your Yoga is the highly anticipated final book of the Your Body, Your Yoga trilogy — the definitive investigation of how your uniqueness affects your movements, postures and your yoga.

This remarkable trilogy looks at the variations of human anatomy and its effect on the body’s biomechanics. Used as a standard text for many yoga teacher training programs it provides yoga students and teachers a system for exploring what asanas are possible and sensible and which postures should best be left alone. This third book in the series looks at the upper body: the shoulder complex, arms and hands. But, there is more. This final book also includes explorations of how asymmetries and proportions affect our practice.

You are unique. No one else in this whole world has your biology or biography. Why suppose that your yoga practice should be, or even could be, the same as anyone else’s? How far apart should your hands be in Down Dog? Where should they be pointing? Should you avoid hyperextension of the elbows? Is hyperflexion of the shoulders safe? The answer is — it depends! Your Upper Body, Your Yoga looks at the upper body from both the Western anatomical/biomechanical point of view and the modern yoga perspective. It is filled with detail, discussion, illustrations and practical advice for bodies of all types.

Proportions and asymmetries are highly variable from person to person. The implications of asymmetries for a yoga practice and whether these asymmetries need to be changed, accommodated or simply accepted is examined along with variability in our proportions and their effect on postures.

Whether the reader is a novice to yoga and anatomy or a seasoned practitioner with an in-depth knowledge, this book will be valuable. For the novice, there are easily understood illustrations and photographs, as well as sidebars highlighting the most important topics. For the anatomy specialists, other sidebars focus on the complexity of the topic, with hundreds of references provided for further investigation. For the yoga teacher, other sidebars suggest how to bring this knowledge into the classroom. Your Upper Body, Your Yoga can be used as a resource when specific questions arise, as a textbook to be studied in detail, or as a fascinating coffee-table book to be browsed at leisure for topics of current interest.

About the author

Bernie Clark has had a passion for science, health, sports and spirituality since childhood. He has a degree in science from the University of Waterloo and spent over 25 years as a senior executive in the high-tech/space industry. Bernie has been investigating the path of meditation for over three decades and began teaching yoga and meditation in 1998. He conducts yoga teacher trainings several times a year and aims to build bridges between the experiences of yoga and the understandings of modern science. He is creator of the website. Other books written by Bernie include Your Body, Your Yoga; From the Gita to the Grail: Exploring Yoga Stories & Western Myths. Bernie lives, teaches and offers workshops in Vancouver, Canada.

Bernie Clark's profile page

Editorial Reviews



The concepts Bernie presents will someday be standard in yoga teaching programs: tension, compression, skeletal variation, passive and active ranges of motion, asymmetry and proportion. Bernie’s magnum opus clearly illustrates the practical impact of these ideas for all yoga teachers and students.

Paul Grilley
author of Yin Yoga:Outline of a Quiet Practice


Having been a tremendous fan of Bernie Clark’s two previous books (Your Body, Your Yoga and Your Spine, Your Yoga), I was ready to dive into this third book. I could not put it down. The unifying theme across these works is that each person is an individual. Posture and movement technique migrates stress from one body part or tissue to the next. Stress is essential to stimulate optimal health, but it must be in the right amount. Too little allows a weak system, but too much stress creates cumulative micro-damage and, eventually, pain and injury. The key to health is to manage this tipping point. Bernie shows the differences in people, and how to modify each exercise for each area of the body to stimulate robustness rather than pain. His guidance on self-assessment allows the reader to converge on what is best for them. After all, yoga is not a competition but was intended to provide a path to optimal health. Your Upper Body, Your Yoga completes the trilogy guiding the yoga practitioner to resilience with wisdom.

Stuart McGill, PhD
Professor Emeritus
and author of Back Mechanic 


Another great book from Bernie Clark, full of detail and insight not found in other yoga books. The perfect completion to an outstanding trilogy.

Stu Girling, author
Illustrated Yoga Anatomy


Bernie Clark has done it again! Like its predecessors (Your Body, Your Yoga and Your Spine, Your YogaYour Upper Body, Your Yoga is an invaluable resource for yoga teachers of all styles, and an empowering reference for practitioners who are interested in learning more about their bodies and how to make yoga work for them. It’s chock-full of anatomical insights and well rooted in evidence-based research but written in Clark’s usual affable tone. It’s not at all overly academic, and the user-friendly way it’s organized makes it far from overwhelming. As a long-time yoga practitioner who is not a “natural backbender,” who has often recoiled from upper body-focused yoga classes, and who struggles with arm-binding postures, reading this ignited a fresh interest in exploring poses that I’d previously neglected in fresh ways that honor my unique anatomy. If your practice or teaching is feeling frustrating or stale, this (and Clark’s other books) might be just what you need to get excited about yoga again. I know I’m inspired!

Kat (Heagberg) Rebar
author of Yoga Where You Are 
and editor of Yoga International


Understanding how the body optimally works is among the most important areas of knowledge for every yoga teacher and teacher trainer. In support of this, Bernie Clark has already given the yoga teaching community two invaluable gifts in Your Body, Your Yoga and Your Spine, Your Yoga. Now he completes his invaluable trilogy with Your Upper Body, Your Yoga, giving us in granular detail the depth of insight necessary for translating knowledge about the body into effective teaching with diverse students. I most highly recommend it.

Mark Stephens
author of Teaching Yoga and Yoga Sequencing


Reading Bernie’s books, and in this instance, the third instalment of his magnificent Your Body, Your Yoga trilogy, is an exercise in vigorous head nodding. By this I mean, I find myself in such excited agreement and approval that my head is constantly bobbing up and down as I read! I have become a bobble-head for Bernie.
This attention to one’s own individuality, and the call for teachers to attend to the individuals before them, is the crux of the message, explored with expansive detail and practically applied to yoga practice. And although this is explicitly a book for yogis, its contents cover a great scope of information that is universally applicable to the general use and functioning of the human form, useful to anyone who cares to understand and enhance their movement. Congratulations again, Bernie, on another compendium of shared information and applied wisdom. We are truly in your debt for providing us with this deep resource.

Gil Hedley, PhD, Director
Integral Anatomy Productions, LLC


Bernie has a nimble way of clarifying the functional anatomy of the upper body in a way that reads like a novel. I was fascinated and inspired with the useful tools and was reminded why we continue to work and learn from the body. The inclusive and clear illustrations are enormously helpful to new and seasoned students alike. I often felt compelled to move and test-pilot the clever tests and movement suggestions and could see students enjoying themselves in learning to practice safely and become more aware and adaptable teachers.

Beth Spindler C-IAYT, E-RYT 500
yoga therapist, teacher, writer
author of Yoga Therapy for Fear


Bernie Clark is an anatomy medicine man expertly weaving together the often undervalued links between bones, muscles, fascia, neurodynamics and meridians into a compassionate look at how each person’s alignment must be made personal when practicing postures. No yoga or functional anatomy library should be without Your Upper Body, Your Yoga. It is another essential text for yoga teachers and practitioners of any and all influences.

Sarah Powers 
author of Insight Yoga
and Lit from Within



This book is a must-read for any kinaesthetic professional! Bernie has managed to streamline a very complex subject to one that is accessible to anyone, regardless of their knowledge of anatomy. Your Upper Body, Your Yoga is supported by an incredible amount of research and showcases a treasure trove of scientific and statistical data in a way that is easy to understand and digest. This book is a true gift to millions of yoga and movement practitioners seeking to study human anatomy and variations.

Jo Phee
Senior Yoga Teacher Trainer


Bernie Clark’s Your Upper Body, Your Yoga completes an epic masterpiece in the world of yogasana and places him among the modern “greats” of this ancient practice. Clark upended my understanding of yoga when I came across his first volume about five years ago. He showed me that many of the cues that I and others parroted from generations of teachers before us were unnecessary, simply wrong or downright dangerous! He has been a major inspiration in my teaching and helped prompt my own humbler work on a related subject.

Rob Walker, Director of the Alberta Yoga College
author of The New Yoga: From Cult and Dogma to Science and Sanity


Be warned: If you learned dogmatic rules of “universal alignment” in a training or class, you will soon encounter the evidence and logic for why those axiomatic “rules” just aren’t so. But fear not, Bernie communicates the Gospel of Human Variation with the patience, intelligence and clarity of your favorite professor. Read and integrate everything this man has written. Your body and your students’ bodies will thank you.

Josh Summers, co-author of The Power of Mindfulness
 and host of the podcast Everyday Sublime





Back cover


I do not think enough yogis and yoginis appreciate the magnitude of Bernie Clark’s contribution to their art. We are, all of us, in his debt. – Paul Grilley


Your Upper Body, Your Yoga, the final book of the Your Body, Your Yoga series, focuses on the shoulders, arms and hands. Your body is unique, and this uniqueness affects your yoga practice. The anatomy and biomechanics of the arms and shoulders are described in varying levels of detail, for the novice through to the experienced teacher. Applying this knowledge to a safe and effective yoga practice holds a few surprises: you may discover that the traditional alignment cues pervasive in yoga classes are not the best directions for you, given the nature of your body. Where your hands should be positioned and how you move your arms may depend on the bony structure of your shoulders and arms.

Included is volume 5 of the Your Body, Your Yoga series: Asymmetries and Proportions. This volume examines functional asymmetries that need no fixing, as well as dysfunctional ones that do require addressing. Body proportions are highly variable and will affect the way postures are performed by different students. If you have ever wondered why you cannot do certain poses, the answer may become clear when you discover just how unique you are.

For students who don’t want much detail, there are summaries, drawings and simplifying sidebars to unpack the difficult topics. For yoga teachers, there are sidebars that translate biomechanics into simple instructions for your students. For the enthusiast who wants to delve deeper, there are detailed sidebars and endnotes. Regardless of your level of experience or preferred style of practice, there is much within this book that will challenge, inspire and delight you.


Praise for Your Upper Body, Your Yoga


Bernie Clark knows a great deal about the architecture of the upper body, and I find myself thoroughly schooled by the details captured in Volume 4. He includes details of neurodynamics, fascia, vasculature, movements, muscles, bones and their fascinating variations. He then adeptly offers functional applications to yoga postures and the coordination of movement. As for asymmetries and proportions, the topics of Volume 5, Bernie addresses them with the energy they deserve. In my own study of anatomy, I find it is the asymmetries that are most compelling and interesting, as they trump every mental conjuring otherwise and snap the observer into the present moment and the stark individuality of what is before us.


Gil Hedley, PhD, Director
Integral Anatomy Productions, LLC



Bernie Clark has created a summary of scientific support for the modern practice of yoga asana. It has taken him eight years of work. Bernie’s patience, intellect and endurance set him at the same high table as any researcher I am aware of. He has sifted through hundreds of scientific studies, and now he has completed a trilogy of books that clearly spell out the implications of these studies for yoga practice. 


Paul Grilley
author of Yin Yoga:
Outline of a Quiet Practice


Other titles by Bernie Clark