It has been a while when I started teaching yoga, and what I realised is that there is a little bit of a confusion when it comes to the purely physical aspect of practice. I believe that it’s because yoga became a type of fitness, and it fitness you tell your body what to do, you push it and challenge it in order to shape it to your needs and expectations. But if you like yoga because it’s a mind-body practice, then you probably want to put a bit more emphasis on the mind.
So is it important how I position my body in an asana or not? Will I injure myself by practising with wrong alignment? Or is it just a matter of looking good in an asana?
I started my yoga practice with Iyengar style, slow paced, alignment oriented way of practicing. And even though I teach in a different style, I try to show my students that alignment is important. Not because of the looks, but because of the feels. There are certain positionings of the body that make you feel good in the posture. You will still experience stretching and your muscles firing, but the overall experience will be: that feels good.
According to Patanjali asana is a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed, steady, comfortable and motionless.
So every time when you enter a posture, just see if these characteristics apply. If not, how could you change and adjust your body to feel this way?
Every body is different and yoga’s goal is not to make each body to contort into the same kind of shape, but to work with individual body in such way that it brings peace to the mind.
If you ever felt a yoga bliss after a class, use it as your guidance and allow it to happen while you practice. Slow, steady, relaxed, comfortable, yet focused (mindful) body and mind. As you follow this cue you may discover what your body likes, how it works, how to work with it, how to prop it and how to challenge it. If exercising is a dialogue with your body, in yoga it’s your body that does the talking, you listen.