Why you need to align your yoga!
It’s time to align.
Your yoga poses, that is.
I was asked, “why are you such a stickler for proper alignment?“
Answer: Because I love my body.
Unlike the average person, my poor body has been through a lot. I have scoliosis, have herniated discs in my neck, been in a horrible car accident, had a yoga teacher injure my neck five years ago, and love to run and move my body.
I love free and creative movement and I am a firm believer in them.
But, to first be free and creative, we must first have a proper foundation. By establishing a firm foundation and proper base for our body, we learn the proper imprint so that we can grow and expand throughout the course of our yoga class and growth as yoga students.
I like to think of alignment like my two year old nephew playing with building blocks. When he tries to stack them artistically and all willy nilly, what happens? The structure collapses. It falls down. BOOM! But when he starts with a base and gradually and logically adds blocks on top? He creates a firm structure and a real block building or road. He can race is cars along the blocks without them toppling, he can put figurines on the block building, he can really play with his creation.
Free creative movements is one of the best things and one of my favorite things to do. I can move safely in a truly fluid flow because I know my body, I know my anatomy and the rules for my body’s movement.
The average flow class, however, can easily put strain on the body. For example, sacroiliac joint injuries are huge for advanced yogis. S.I. Injury is actually an extremely common problem for yoga teachers and practitioners and can be extremely painful and debilitating. Yoga injuries also include wrists, knees, shoulders, toes, necks, hips, you name it! Who would think that yoga could end up hurting your body?
Having had real injuries and dealt with pain for the majority of my adult life (not to mention that super tight muscles after a long run), I never want to injure myself in yoga class. I want to feel ease and comfort in my poses for the rest of my life. I practice proper alignment to keep my back healthy, to strengthen my legs, and to know that I can flow forever.
A small foot misalignment may not seem like a big deal. For a beginner? It could cause a cramp or injury that keeps them away from yoga for years (or the rest of their lives.) For advanced students, a misalignment could end up causing a repetitive strain injury or muscle strain and have a spiral affect to your knees, low-back, etc. Runners know all too well the dangers of shin splints, runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, etc. Runners know that proper gait, form, and footwear will eliminate and reduce the potential for injury. Yet on the yoga mat, we pretend that these rules do not apply. We say yoga is “meditative” and therefore not a typical sport. Yet, just like running, incorrect form can be debilitating and take us out of the game and off our mat. The injury can happen quickly or it may build over years and years. And, as in running, if not treated properly the injury can take years to heal…or the rest of your life.
I love my body. I love yoga. I want to yoga when I’m ninety years old. Don’t you?
So I constantly look for proper alignment.
I love to move freely and dance and flow, but I make sure I do it from a safe starting place. I train my muscle memory to know the correct alignment. I make sure my muscles know how to engage, my foot knows where to land, that I listen to my body and not cheat my way to try and get deeper in a pose.
In aligning my pose, I allow for the ability to flow. In aligning my body, I become stronger, happier, and able to dance safely in a pose. My firm foundation allows my body to fly higher and bigger than ever before.
What do you think? Have you had a yoga injury? Do you believe that, in order to move with our imaginations, we must first have the appropriate building blocks for success? What do you love about alignment based yoga? What do you hate? Tell me! 🙂