With so many options and styles of yoga movement to choose from, why bother taking the time to learn alignment when you could just go to class, move, breathe and leave feeling a little better?
Like any form of exercise or sport the technique – or alignment – with which you approach your movement can help determine your success or failure with that movement. Take for instance, golfing. Tiger Woods and other successful golfers don’t just go to the green, plant their feet, move their hips willy nilly and expect a great swing. No, they spend years, lifetimes even, studying, adapting and refining their technique, their physical alignment.
Success in yoga and success in golf are or course, measured very differently. Success in golf leads to the very objective outcome of the ball reaching the hole. Success in yoga is much more subjective. Success in yoga leads to an overall experience of balance in strength and flexibility on every level. It is nothing less and nothing more than beginning to feel more calm, centered and connected to yourself and the world around you. It is a practice unlike any other.
Good physical alignment in a yoga posture not only improves your yoga technique, it also prevents injury. You may not feel it right away but after years of rounding the or collapsing the shoulders in down dog or sinking in the hips in standing poses you are inevitably going to suffer. Learning to keep the shoulders back through effective engagement of the back body, and supporting the hips and low back through strong actions in the legs can do much to prevent and relieve current and future injury.
Good physical alignment in yoga also promotes a strong connection to mind and spirit. In yoga, the mind, body and spirit are not moving independent of one another. Alignment on one level effects and informs alignment on another level.
To access the maximum physical, mental and spiritual benefits of the yoga practice it is essential to study alignment. Then, no matter what style of yoga movement or approach you take in your practice, you are sure to enjoy the success of a safe and vibrant body, and a more calm, centered, and connected experience of yourself and the world in which you live.