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Alignment vs. Continuity in Yoga


This entry was posted on Might 21, 2024 by Charlotte Bell.

Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) with Yoga Block

My 40-plus-year yoga follow is rooted within the Iyengar system. For many years, I studied with Iyengar lecturers, virtually solely. The non-Iyengar lecturers I’ve gravitated to have largely been folks whose follow and educating was grounded within the Iyengar system earlier than they determined to maneuver in a special path.

B.Okay.S. Iyengar was a pioneer in disseminating the significance of cautious alignment. It is sensible. Once I studied with B.Okay.S and his daughter, Geeta, in Pune a few years in the past, he acknowledged that the aim of asana follow was to create within the physique an energized and peaceable setting to allow the thoughts to be each alert and calm. A physique that’s undisciplined and misaligned is much less prone to relaxation in a state of equilibrium. This little bit of knowledge has guided my intentions for follow.

A Totally different Manner of Alignment

Whereas I agree utterly with this in concept, and thru a long time of my very own follow, I’ve begun to maneuver away from utilizing the phrase “alignment” in favor of the idea of “continuity.” All too usually, “alignment” can suggest that there’s one method to organize one’s physique in a pose, and that it’s common. I do know that many lecturers perceive that alignment shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all proposition, however for me, the phrase itself implies this.

Continuity, alternatively, suggests a extra inside expertise. Continuity refers to a state of harmonious settlement all through the moveable components of the physique. In different phrases, after we deal with continuity, we tune into the relationships between bones at every joint, between the interior motion intentions (the breath) and the outer manifestation of an asana, and between the inner and exterior buildings of our our bodies. On this submit, I’d wish to deal with continuity by the joints.

Continuity Via the Joints

When you spend a lot time yoga pictures, chances are you’ll get the concept that reaching Cirque du Soleil-like poses is indicative of “good” follow. Folks training poses which can be structurally unattainable for many practitioners could or is probably not “superior” yogis. I do know I’ve stated this in a thousand alternative ways, however yoga shouldn’t be about performing fancy poses. It simply isn’t.

Asana follow is about harmonizing our our bodies and minds. And creating continuity by our joints is one very concrete and attainable approach of transferring right into a state of ease and concord.

Continuity by our joints implies that reasonably than specializing in pushing to the tip vary of our joints so as to obtain the “full expression” of a pose, we as a substitute create easy transitions by our joints. Pushing joints to their finish ranges can usually create micro-tears and impingements within the joint capsules. Continuously overstretching ligaments—the collagenous tissue that connects bones to different bones—creates unstable joints.

Defending Your Ligaments

Ligaments are designed to restrict the motion of our joints. When our ligaments turn out to be overstretched from frequently pushing our joints into their finish ranges, our muscle tissue should turn out to be tighter so as to do the work of the ligaments. Whereas we could not really feel these accidents within the second of pushing into our joints, habitually doing it will put on down smooth tissue over time, resulting in joint issues down the highway.

Pushing joints to their finish ranges will increase stress in our nervous programs as our our bodies’ pure protecting mechanisms kick in to maintain our joints from transferring too far. If asana’s function is to create a peaceable setting within the physique, pushing for max sensation shouldn’t be the best way to do it. Joint continuity could require you to maneuver to your finish vary after which again off a bit. Once I do that, my poses really feel way more secure and grounded and my thoughts feels instantly comfy.

Tips on how to Create Continuity

Creating continuity is a difficult proposition. It’s difficult as a result of there’s no robust sensation that accompanies continuity. Once we push into our joints to the purpose of sensation—snug or uncomfortable—we all know who and the place we’re. Once we again off a bit within the service of continuity, there’s not a complete lot of apparent sensation.

So I organize my physique in such a approach as to really feel little to no sensation at my joint websites—ft, ankles, knees, hips, sacroiliac joint, vertebral joints, shoulders, elbows, wrists and palms. I create my pose from the bottom up, checking in with every joint as I soften into the asana.

Training with the intention of making continuity can also be difficult as a result of it’s prone to be variable from each day. That’s the place mindfulness is so beneficial. Once we be taught what continuity seems like, we are able to regulate our asanas from the within.

Transfer Slowly, Use Yoga Props and Be Aware

Generally it’s useful to maneuver slowly and consciously towards your finish vary. If you attain your finish vary, again off a bit, till you’re feeling a way of ease in all planes round your joint. There needs to be no sense of impingement or restriction of the movement of power between the bones at every joint.

Even when you don’t usually use yoga props—blocks, straps, blankets, and so forth.—use them once you follow for continuity. They’re invaluable instruments for serving to you obtain structural integrity in your poses.

Mindfulness of the disposition of your mind may help you establish in case your pose is in concord with itself. Does your mind really feel tight, onerous, strained or contracted? In that case, loosen up your mind if attainable, then look across the physique and notice the place else you is likely to be straining.

All these cues are delicate. They require that we glance extra deeply than we could also be used to. An overstretched or impinged joint will converse proper up—its suggestions is true on the floor. Reciting alignment guidelines in our heads as we follow squelches deeper exploration. Wanting deeper is the essence of yoga follow. Training for continuity brings ease to the journey of deep wanting.

About Charlotte Bell

Charlotte Bell found yoga in 1982 and started educating in 1986. Charlotte is the creator of Aware Yoga, Aware Life: A Information for On a regular basis Follow and Yoga for Meditators, each revealed by Rodmell Press. Her third ebook is titled Hip-Wholesome Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Information to Defending the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Ache (Shambhala Publications). She writes a month-to-month column for CATALYST Journal and serves as editor for Yoga U On-line. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte performs oboe and English horn within the Salt Lake Symphony and people sextet Crimson Rock Rondo, whose DVD received two Emmy awards in 2010.



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