On the Mat: Alignment 101

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What does it mean to be “aligned?” Alignment sounds so desirable, doesn’t it?

When we are feeling unwell or out of shape, we describe that experience as being “out of sorts” or “disconnected” or “misaligned.” So what does alignment mean?

The concept of aligning body and mind has inspired more than a month’s worth of the classes I have taught to our Mind Body Dancer teachers and students. We have explored exciting territory inside and out in understanding personal alignment techniques.

Alignment requires sensitivity to balance and organization. It is dynamic and changes with the day. It also takes time and a progression of steps along its path. Focusing in this way allows for space in assembling the necessary supportive skeletal and muscular structures.

 

I thought it might be helpful to include a very simple Alignment 101 tip here for our readers. You can start investigating alignment in your practice today.

Grab your blocks!

Let’s take low lunge for example. Low lunge is an excellent preparatory posture for standing asana like Warrior I and II (Virabhadrasana I and II). It sets up the spine for lengthening, the hips for support and opening, and the grounded feet required for those more upright postures.

Getting into that first lunge on your mat and straining to reach the floor makes very little sense if we wish to organize effectively and encourage new possibilities in strength and flexibility. Look how blocks can align a posture like low lunge.

 

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Just placing a yoga block under each hand directly in line with the elbows and shoulders creates so much more space in the entire body, fostering its efficient, healthy organization. The extended leg can reach further, the bent leg’s hip has more space to stabilize the leg/pelvis connection, the spine can extend from head to tail, and with the eyes more forward, the head and neck are at ease. Breathing becomes easier too. For many, using blocks in a low lunge can neutralize strengths and weaknesses and set a dynamic approach to finding our way to greater alignment and balance into motion.

 

Using props in your practice does not mean you are limited. I would argue that using props with proper guidance can actually deepen your personal practice, as you investigate sustainable alignment principles full of possibility.

-TaraMarie Perri

Insert photo by Philippe Teston

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