Understanding Alignment — in the body.
“Just tell me what to do.”
I hear that a lot as a yoga teacher. Life can be overwhelming, and when we get to yoga, we just want to let. That has its place in our practice. But like eating chocolate cake It’s best used in a particular time and place – but not all the time. It’s easy to get lost and miss what we come to the mat do to, whether it be physical or spiritual results we are aiming for. The personal experience of life and yoga blossoms with individual alignment and connection to the effulgent source of being. This requires a bit of trailblazing to find our way through the wilderness of situations and challenges we encounter on and off the mat. This call to authenticity and engagement led me to study the source texts in the original (rather than relying solely on expert commentary) and to apply them in the moment – opening into the essential experience of living yoga. This includes physical body postural alignment. Alignment always is an individual matter. While masters of yoga can pin point an alignment issue, I’ve found it isn’t complete if my own insight and understanding doesn’t emerge from it.
There are very, very few alignment instructions in the texts (another reason why Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga” was such a breakthrough yoga classic). The texts discuss the shapes of a few postures in a general way (the Hatha Yoga Pradipika) and Patanjali advises that our posture should be stable and joyful, or steady and easeful (although the translations for that vary widely). So we are given a general principle ( think of it as equivalent to gravity) and then it’s up to us to find it in the world and decide what it means. The journey of self-discovery that yoga offers can elude us if we rely just on the teacher who offers their experience. To find our own understanding requires that we embrace the forms, as we as we have encountered them in class on YouTube, etc., and then let’s explore this mystical formula oin our own f steadiness and ease in our own bodies.
It requires attention, honesty with ourselves and a willingness to feel. You see, in the end, what a yoga practice always reveals (and this is supported in the texts) is that the level of change is in mind. This is a universal principle. If the mind is heavy or inert the body will be, or perhaps wobbliness arises during change in the life, etc. and you may find difficulty balancing. So I invite you to open to discover your alignment through exploring balancing steadiness and ease and take note of what interferes with the experience of steadiness and ease when you are on your mat. Most of the people I’ve worked with find that it’s surprising what the underlying issues are, and the sense of freedom that emerges as a result of that work is well worth the effort.