Updated: Oct 6, 2020
Every day new yoga enthusiasts pop up. Why? Because with all the stress that comes with the 21st century, people look for means to ease that and rather than relieve said stress in unhealthy ways individuals turn to yoga. Yoga is about balancing one’s inner self and maintaining that balance thereby producing total wellbeing. Poses such as the downward dog, crow pose, and the likes help yoga enthusiasts stretch their muscles and attain flexibility and a calm state of mind. The beauty of yoga is in its uniqueness with approaches ranging from Ashtanga yoga to Hatha yoga and others.
Just like other forms of exercise, proper practice of yoga produces beautiful results, but improper practice and use of the poses can result in pain. For instance, improper alignment of the body when attempting a bridge pose can result in extreme back discomfort. Practicing a pose in the wrong manner disturbs the general flow and natural alignment of the body. Improper distribution of body weight while stretching in yoga can result in serious injuries and discomfort of epic proportions. This is why it is essential to master or know how to properly place your body when practicing yoga. If you are a yoga beginner or even a long time yoga practitioner and you are about to embark on a new pose, it is very essential that you understand how to properly align your body so as to get the most benefits out of your yoga practice.
What is alignment in yoga?
Not quite sure what alignment in yoga means? Fret not, essentially alignment is arranging your body parts in a manner that results in proper weight distribution and efficient use of your bones so that your muscles don’t have to work as hard. Alignment creates for all body parts moving in unison and a synchronized manner. Anything obstructing the naturally synchronized movement of the body leads to pain. The problem is that yoga enthusiasts rely more on the developed muscles of flexible body parts which result in wrong asanas and improper posture. Keep in mind that the objective of yoga is total body flexibility and reliance already flexible body parts doesn’t achieve that objective. Correct body alignment works as a remedy for slip discs, joint pains, fatigue and other body issues that arise out of improper alignment. When the natural flow of movement in the body is restored, the body heals and relaxes itself.
Importance of proper, correct alignment
“The fruit of right poise is the strength to resist the shocks of infatuation or sorrow,” these words were said by the great conceptualist Patanjali. These words said many centuries still hold true now as Patanjali visualized that it would. Proper alignment expands the practice of yoga to yoga enthusiasts. Performing an asana properly isn’t the only benefit of proper alignment, but it also allows you be more in tune with your body. Other benefits are;
– holding the asana correctly allows the pose to properly work and spread its healing effect throughout your body
– it also brings permanent pain relief to joint discomfort or disorders plaguing your body
– it allows your body to age with grace, in that joint stiffness and other woes that come as we get progressively older becomes easier to transition into.
6 Ways to Find Alignment in Yoga Postures
Engage your core muscles: what are your core muscles? These are the muscles in your torso and trunk that help support your spine. Putting these muscles to you, keep you feeling toned and tight (in a good way). You end up feeling on top of the world when you put your core muscles into all your exercises.
Draw your belly in and up and your tailbone down: dropping your tailbone towards the floor strengthens the leg muscles by pressing them against the bone where they can support the body. The bones would feel stretched, and the muscles would feel tightened against the bone.
Press into all four corners of your feet: this keeps your legs rooted and creates depth and stability while you exercise. You should feel equal weight distribution from the front to the back and the sides of each foot. From that balanced feeling, you should also feel the arches of your feet lifting up, and the stretched feeling should course upward to your knees and thigh muscles as you lift your knees.
Stabilize and center your head between your shoulders: look ahead with your chin facing down in a natural manner and not tilted or lifted. Move your shoulders away from your ears and push your shoulder blades down your back. Lift your sternum or breastbone slightly in a natural manner, ensure that your chest is comfortable, and spread your collarbone wide. Align your hips with your knees and your knees over your heels.
Spread your fingers wise: when doing a pose that requires you to support your body with your hands, ensure that your fingers are spread apart nicely and are pressed firmly against the ground for proper support.
For Exercise to be properly carried out, your entire body should be involved no matter what yoga pose you are practicing. Apart from keeping your body engaged before an exercise, focus your thoughts on the part of your body that is to be worked on as that helps. An instance would be in the case of bicep curls, let your thoughts be focused on your biceps. This enhances the body-mind connection and creates a more uplifting workout. Lastly, engaging your mind is a good brain activity and helps in mental conditioning.
Engaging in yoga in a way that is aligned is a great way of recognizing and connecting the natural rhythm on our body. Alignment has a vital role to play in this area. By attaining the proper alignment, you can feel the significance of yoga more and also the positive effects go through your body and improving your total well-being.