I’ve always been drawn to alignment-focused yoga, where there is enough time in a pose to focus on how micro-adjustments affect your body, energy and breath. For those of you less familiar with all the different forms of yoga, this style can be contrasted with fast-flowing practices where you’re constantly moving from one pose to the next.
Here are my top four reasons why I love practicing alignment-focused yoga and why I teach this way.
Align to feel
When your body is aligned well in a yoga pose and you spend several breaths in that position, you start feeling what’s going on in your body. With the right alignment for your body a yoga pose isn’t a struggle. But you can start to notice and feel what’s happening: which muscles are working, how a shift in alignment changes how the pose feels in different parts of your body, where there is openness or constriction, how your breath is moving. An alignment-focused approach is mindful and present with your body and your breath.
Align to strengthen safely
Our bodies love to find the path of least resistance, and in a fast-flowing yoga practice they can get away with it pretty easily. But over time, doing the same movements without the right alignment for your body can cause damage. Sun salutations are a big culprit here – there are challenging poses involved and, without having been trained in the safe alignment of each pose before bringing them all together in a flow, we can cause real problems. A slow practice that focuses on alignment retrains our bodies to learn how proper alignment feels, giving us the foundations to strengthen safely.
Align to release
With good alignment you start to work the key strengthening and stabilising muscles in a particular pose, which in turn allows other muscles to release from their tense holding patterns. This can have dramatic results (see my ‘hips don’t lie’ post), but at the very least it starts to create more freedom in the body and more space for the breath to flow easily, allowing you find that elusive balance between effort and ease.
Align with love
I see an alignment-focused yoga practice as an important way to take care of ourselves, developing strength and flexibility safely in our bodies, creating a smooth flow of breath and energy, giving our minds focus and calm, and enabling the restoring and calming side of our nervous systems to take over to build emotional resilience over time. Align with love and reap the benefits for your body, mind and soul.
Although I enjoy trying out different styles of yoga, I am always drawn back to an alignment-focused practice, and the more I practice in this way, the more I learn about myself and my body. If you’d like to give it a try, get in touch to join a class, or arrange private tuition. I look forward to meeting you on the mat soon.