One of our many teachers always enthuses about the necessity of good alignment. Sometimes, in more dynamic practices, elements of alignment get lost.
But Yoga beyond the edges of the mat includes the importance of good alignment. When we are properly aligned physically, the energy currents can flow more ease-fully. When we are properly aligned mentally, we are focused on where we are going and how we are going to get there. Once properly aligned spiritually, life flows more gracefully with less struggle and drama.
Alignment on the mat goes beyond stacking the joints and paralleling up the edges of our feet. It's an attitude of non-competitiveness, non-anticipation, non-reflection; in simple terms, it's about being fully present. These intentions need to be adopted into life beyond yogasana too.
Yes, we need to be mindful that we are practicing safely. Yoga can be just as injurious as other physical movements; if we throw our bodies around mindlessly and repetitively apply pressure to our knees, shoulders or hips then we are going to end up in some degree of pain.
Mental attitude and an aligned intention is equally as important.
Let's not forget that when yogasana originated it was just that; 'yoga; to yoke/unite' and 'asana; to sit and receive' i.e. the postures were predominantly seated and static. It's not that long ago that Sri K Pattabhi Jois found an old sequence of Krishnamacharya's and in turn began to teach the physically demanding practice of Ashtanga. Vinyasa was borne out of the Ashtanga style and even now there are many, many different forms of vinyasa being developed.
To sit and receive.
To be still in this moment and watch what occurs.
To be aligned in the here and now.
Aligned; get in line with or give support to.
Get in line with where you are now. Not who you were on the first side in the sequence. Not who you think you should be. Not with the girl/guy next to you. Not how you were yesterday. Or who you will be tomorrow.
But who you are. Here. Now.
Authenticity is key. Yes; we can be inspired. Yes; there will be others who influence us. But who the hell are we, if we aren't fully ourselves? What kind of a life is it, if we constantly project and adopt others' ways of being? To be authentic is to be aligned.
So on the mat, know where you're at and respect it. If you need to rest, take it. If you need a prop, support yourself with it. Be aligned and so true to yourself. So you know where you are at in the here and now. And over time, that will ripple way beyond the edges of your mat. Into your life and your soul.
Off the mat, be true to you. Align yourself and carry yourself as best you can.
Almost all seasoned yogi/nis will know that when we become misaligned, injuries and pain occur. Let your attention wander for just a moment, and fall into ego (as opposed to breath) and then we fall too far and lose sight of how we feel.
The best practice is to keep it real.
The best practice is to be aligned.
More on the subject to come soon; included aligned posture advice and aligned life tips and tricks.