Monday, May 4, 2015

Alignment and Yoga

The other day I received a Facebook message from a yoga teacher based in Australia. His query was simple and straightforward: what are the benefits of alignment in the practice of yoga?

What a great question! We’re exploring alignment in this practice, and to what end? 

I experience alignment awareness as having two primary benefits. One of the benefits of exploring alignment in the yoga poses is the potential to rebalance aging bodies, and the other benefit is to help focus and calm the mind.

We generally move our bodies from the places of least resistance. When we’re young, moving the body from the flexible places generally isn’t very problematic since most of the body tends to be pretty flexible. As we age, however, moving from the points of least resistance can cause two problems.

When we move from the points of least resistance, the flexible places tend to get more flexible. What’s the problem with greater flexibility, you may ask? Excessive flexibility leads to joint instability. And joint instability is a common cause of chronic pain and dis-ease in the body. For example, lower-back pain is often experienced as tight muscles, which frequently relates back to joints that are overly mobile.

Like too much of anything, too much flexibility can become problematic. And chronically moving from the points of least resistance can lead to layers of tight muscles overlaying hypermobile joints.
When we move from the points of least resistance, the stiff places also tend to get bypassed. And as a result, the stiff places tend to get stiffer and stiffer. This tight-getting-tighter often happens in the thoracic spine and the upper part of the neck.

Rather than the joy of movement that is harmoniously distributed throughout the body, vast tracts of the body grow stagnant when movements only happen in the easy and familiar places.

By paying attention to alignment in the body, the poses can help mobilize the places that most need opening, and stabilize the places that are at risk of becoming over-mobile. In addition, the mind is engaged in this practice of awareness.

Focusing the mind on something such as body alignment cultivates concentration. And concentration is on the continuum that leads us into all the myriad benefits of meditation.


Working with alignment in the poses can have great benefits for both body and mind. However, working with alignment also has the potential to lead to less ease and more discomfort. In the next blog posting, I’ll discuss the potential dark side of alignment.

1 comment:

vu quoc said...

Thông tin của Ad khá hay, thanks anh đã chia sẻ.
Thông tin thêm : Yoga tại nhà