I’ve been practicing yoga since my late teen years, and the trajectory of my practice veered toward alignment and “precision” after meeting Scott Anderson in 2014. I graduated from Alignment Yoga in 2015 and has helped many students and clients through my work with the body’s organs, fascia (connective tissue), muscles, bones, breathing and energy system.
Alignment yoga is defined by the following:
The Three Fundamentals
The Three Fundamentals are uniquely applicable to Westerners – the yogis of India didn’t often encounter people so caffeinated, multitasking and stressed out! We need a way to drop the stresses and tensions with which we unconsciously burden ourselves and set the stage for a focused and joyful yoga practice. This is why Alignment Yoga classes generally start with a meditation on Grounding, Relaxing the Palate and Full-Commitment Exhale – the Three Fundamentals.
Much of the fatigue people report as they reach their 40’s is the result of making movements from muscles that weren’t designed to make those movements. The challenge is to discover and change these habitual movement patterns. The Pre-Yoga exercises awaken and strengthen the core muscles of postural support, isolating the desired muscles to more easily achieve the optimal, most efficient movement.
Action and Resistance
The interest in flexibility has hypnotized the Western approach to yoga. Potential students put off taking their first class because they think they’re too stiff, beginning students often think, “I can never do this,” and continuing students tend to push themselves too hard getting into new postures. However, the state of yoga becomes available when our body experiences resistance to a movement, and not when we can put our feet behind our head. Consciously holding the place between movement/action and resistance brings new vitality into our system.
Why do so many yoga practitioners compress and tense their necks to open their throats? Why do many yoga practitioners congest their upper backs in the effort to open the chests? It’s an expression of the faulty beliefs we unconsciously act out. Opening any given part of the body does not necessitate congesting or compressing another part of the body. If we can see these habits in our bodies, we have a much better chance of ferreting them out of our minds. With this awareness, yoga can create lasting change from the inside out.