What’s all the hoohaa about alignment in yoga poses? When I first started doing yoga, all I wanted to do was stretch some, sweat some, savasana some, and scram! (The “seven S” style of yoga.) And as for working on alignment at home, forget about it.
My wiser and more experienced self now knows there are good reasons to focus on alignment. And along the way, I’ve picked up some fun ways to play around with alignment at home.
Before the playing around part, here’s why I focus on alignment in yoga poses ….
- To safeguard against injuries on the mat. I don’t like to be injured, especially when all I’m doing is stretching.
- To focus my mind. For me, focusing on alignment relaxes my brain, like knitting or practicing golf seems to do for other people.
- To increase the precision and sensitivity of my perceptions of my body. This helps me to keep an eye out for my health off the mat. As a collateral benefit, my awareness my own thoughts, emotions, and feelings seems to increase in proportion to physical awareness.
- To progress faster in the pose. My body usually goes deeper into the pose when I line its limbs and muscles up right. Over time I have discovered that most poses feel better and better the more deeply I do them.
That’s why I like to focus on alignment, and it’s easy to do under the guidance of a teacher. A teacher can visually spot aspects of alignment that my body only perceives dimly.
At home it’s more of a game. I try to look myself, both visually and with your internal spotlight. But there are other approaches that are fun to try for kicks. These tricks can change our experience of some of the most basic poses.
How about you – is alignment the elixir of your asana, a taunt from the teacher, or something in between?