Proper alignment is a common subject in yoga. Every posture has its own specific alignment rules to focus on, but having a general knowledge of the alignment can help to understand these particular postures. Correct alignment is important to keep our body healthy and in its most natural position in both yoga practice and daily life. There are a few things you should mostly focus on.
The first goal to set up is to find your foundation or connection with the ground below you. While practicing or doing your daily tasks, make sure that you feel the ground. An easy way to feel this connection is to imagine roots are growing out of your feet, unifying you with the earth. A great way to start this practice is to put more focus on Tadasana or Mountain pose in yoga and to go with the same intention through the other postures as well. You will learn to ground and equally distribute your weight in your feet while practicing. You will consequently feel more grounded in your daily life, too.
Another part of our body which can be seen as the foundation is our spine. It is the most important part to be aligned correctly, but because of our daily use of computers and cell phones, it often rounds forward. This misalignment then transfers to our daily lives and yoga practice. It can, as a result, be challenging to have the correct posture at first but all you need is a little bit of time and practice. There are two main things to focus on to achieve this thing.
1. The first is to follow the natural curve of the spine. Our spine naturally has the S shape and is consisted of three natural curves. These are:
- The cervical spine, or the neck
- The thoracic spine, or the upper back
- And the lumbar spine, or lower back
Bring your awareness to this natural curve and correct yourself if feeling misaligned.
2. The second focus is on the length of the spine. It doesn’t work only in backbends or specific postures where you are instructed to round your back. Otherwise, keep your spine as long as possible. Useful tricks to help you with this are to move your chest upward and to roll your shoulders backward. Moving the shoulders away from our ears is another important alignment cue. Having tight and rounded shoulders make many poses difficult and create too much tension in this area. Therefore, during your day and while in asanas move the shoulders downwards whenever you think of it.
After you got your foundation, it is time to focus on your muscles. Your core should be engaged at all times during yoga. Even in static postures, activate the core, on every exhalation. Having a strong core is key for correct yoga practice, and it also stabilizes and gives more support to your spine. Engage all of the other muscles specific for the posture you are in as well. It will move the weight of your body away from your joints. Relax the muscles which are unnecessary for this posture to keep the energy for that time when you really need it.
Last but not least is to be aware that each body is different. It can mean that the correct textbook pose alignment might not be good for you at all. You can detect this if you feel pain or discomfort while in the pose. Make mini adjustments to modify the posture for your specific anatomy.