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Tricks for checking your alignment at home

Sometimes it’s fun to approach asanas playfully, and there’s no better place to do this than at home, using common household props to work on alignment.  Here are some tips…

 Use a mirror

  • Find the fullest-length mirror in your house.  Stand in tadasana so that one side of your body faces the mirror.
    • Do your ear, shoulder, thigh, knee, shin, and ankle all align in a single vertical line?
    • If you were wearing a belt around your hips, would it be parallel to the floor?
  • Now raise your arms overhead, in supta hasta tadasana.
    • Do your arms bend at the elbows?
    • Are your arms vertical, forming a straight line with your ankles, hips, and shoulders?
    • Does the curvature of your back change when you raise your arms?
  • Now face the mirror, still in tadasana.
    • Could you draw a straight horizontal line from ear to ear?
    • Across your collarbones?
    • Across the prominent bones of your hips?
    • Are the inner or outer edges of your feet parallel?
    • Do your knees face in the same direction?

Use the wall

A wall provides a tactile indicator of the alignment of our back and limbs, when we stand right next to it during standing poses.  If you can find a length of wall in your home, about 7 feet long with no furniture, you might enjoy giving these poses a try…

  • Tadasana.
    • See if you can touch the backs of your calves, thighs, buttocks and middle and upper back to the wall (allow the lower back to curve gently away from the wall)
    • Now raise your arms overhead, in supta hasta tadasana.
      • Does raising your arms disturb the curvature of your back ? (if so, resist the change)
      • Can you bring the length of your arms to touch the wall?
      • Do your arms bend at the elbows?
  • Try these standing poses while keeping you shoulders and upper back, arms, and forward or standing shin in contact with the wall
    • Warrior II
    • Trikonasana (Triangle pose)
    • Ardha chandrasana
    • Parsvakonasana

 

Use a stick

A broomstick is a great tool for improve awareness of the position of your  torso and arms.  If you don’t have a suitable broomstick, a mop handle, a shower curtain rod or closet pole, or any other long straight thing around the house will do.  It should be about as long as you are tall.

  • Stand in the center of your yoga mat, facing sideways.
  • Stretch your arms out horizontally to the sides, parallel with your shoulders.
  • Holding the stick in one hand, lift it up lay it across your shoulders and neck, and grasp it with the other hand too. Now it should be positioned across your arms and shoulders, with a hand gripping it on either end.
  • Now align your upper body so as to make the stick parallel to the floor, and parallel to the long edge of the mat.
  • This is the ideal torso and arm alignment for Warrior II !  Try Warrior II, and see if you can keep your arms and chest lined up this way.
  • After trying Warrior II a few times with the stick, do the pose again without it.  Notice whether your arms feel different.  See how close you can come to the stick-assisted ideal alignment when you’re doing it without the stick.
  • The following poses also benefit from the stick-over-arms assist. Give them a try, and see how you do! It may affect how the pose feels once you take the stick away…
    • Trikonsasana,
    • Ardha Chandrasana
    • Pavritta Trikonasana (this one is only for the dauntless and highly flexible.)

 

Use a piece of furniture

For the standing poses where your front knee is bent, a chair or sofa can be a great alignment-checker.  Among other things, focusing on knee alignment helps to avert damaging the knee’s ligaments and tendons, which undergo considerable stress in theses poses.  Here’s how  to check your alignment.

  • Stand upright with your shins or knees touching the front edge of the couch or chair.  Ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should all be stacked a straight vertical line (see “use a mirror” above. Your toes will extend a few inches further underneath the chair or sofa.
  • Keeping one shin or knee touching the furniture, drop the other leg back, assuming the leg position for Warrior I or II.
  • Still keeping your front knee touching the furniture, allow your buttocks to descend toward the floor.  Further, further, further…until your front thigh is parallel to it and at a right angle to your shin.
  • Make sure your front knee doesn’t veer off to one side as you go down.  To do this you may want to mark the point where it touches the chair, when you’re standing up straight – the corner of a pillow or the TV clicker makes a good marker.  Now, make sure your knee doesn’t slide away from the marker as you go down!
  • Chair-sofa alignment works in the following poses.  Give it a try!
    • Warrior I
    • Warrior II
    • Crescent Lunch
    • Low Lunge
    • Reverse warrior

  1. […] 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 […]

  2. Pam Bailey says:

    Okay..
    I’m frustrated with dancing warrior.
    I don’t have time to breathe or to find alignment and yesterday I injured my hip over extending into triangle.
    do I not adjust going into poses or do I adjust to be in proper alignment?

    If I don’t have time what do I do?

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