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Why Does Alignment in Yoga Matter?

Have you ever questioned the importance of where your back foot goes in Warrior 2? How about why the neck is relaxed in Downward Facing Dog? And why does your spine need to be tall in a simple cross-legged seat?

In a yoga class, you may have noticed your teacher constantly giving cues for alignment. We are often told where to place our feet and when to open our hips, but sometimes the reasoning gets lost as we balance on one leg twisted like a pretzel.

Understanding why alignment in yoga matters makes for a fuller practice. Not only do you get to know your body better, but you also begin to unravel the mysterious yogi world. So, let's jump into why posture and alignment matter in a yoga class.

Yoga teacher demonstrating alignment in a pose

What Is Good Posture?

Good posture is the foundation of proper alignment in yoga. It involves maintaining a neutral spine, stacking the joints where appropriate, and distributing body weight evenly.

Our daily lives often lead us to bad habits and poor posture, like tech-neck or desk slouching.

The benefits of good posture extend beyond the yoga mat. The positive outcomes are improved breathing and circulation, enhanced focus, and mental clarity. By cultivating good posture through yoga, we can start to carry these benefits into our daily lives.

Body and Joint Health

When we explore our alignment, we can start to understand our individual bodies.

Everyone has a distinct anatomy that can allow or restrict some range of motion. Knowing our body's limitations is the first step toward a safe and effective yoga practice.

Our joints are pivotal in movement, and yoga helps maintain joint health. Proper alignment ensures that joints are supported and protected during various asanas (yoga poses). By respecting the natural range of motion and avoiding undue stress on joints, we promote longevity and health in our physical bodies.

Mindful Movement

But, of course, yoga is more than a series of poses. Yoga is a practice of mindful movement and a gateway to meditation. Engaging in each pose with awareness and control reduces the risk of injuries caused by abrupt or careless actions. By practicing yoga with intention, we foster a deep connection between the mind and body.

Yoga asanas prepare the body for long periods of seated meditation. So opening the chest in a cobra backbend will ultimately help us sit more comfortably for meditation.

Unblocking the Energy Body and Prana

Yoga philosophy introduces the concept of the energy body, where life force energy, known as prana, flows through the subtle channels. Proper alignment bridges the physical and energetic aspects of our being, facilitating the smooth flow of prana.

You may have encountered the chakras (energy centers within the body) in some of your classes. Aligning the physical body also influences the alignment of the chakras. When these energy centers are in harmony, you may experience a period of enlightenment and a deeper connection to your spiritual self.

How To Improve Your Alignment in Yoga

If you want to prioritise alignment in your practice, there are ways to move in the right direction:

  • Attend yoga classes in person. A yoga teacher will cue and refine your posture.

  • Join a yoga workshop to refine your practice.

  • Think about posture off the mat, e.g., in the supermarket queue.

  • Start up a home practice and use a mirror.

As you flow through your yoga, remember that proper alignment is not about striking the perfect pose but honouring your body, mind, and spirit in every movement. Embrace alignment, and let your yoga practice become a transformative journey.

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