At the beginning of each Hale Pule Yoga teacher training, we take photos of the students upon arrival. At the end of the training we take a second picture. After one month of immersion in the teachings of Yoga, the differences are striking. They see how their posture changes as they break through limiting patterns in other areas of their life. For instance, a forward head position can signal fear and distrust (on the lookout for danger), or slouched shoulders can be a sign of insecurity or self-judgment, which is tamas, darkness and inertia. As the students clear fear and distrust by pointing rajas (activity) toward sattva (light), their energy flows and alignment becomes more natural. This is a good reminder of how Yoga affects every aspect of life.
Yoga asana and Yogic living
The gift of being in a body comes with the responsibility of understanding how to use it properly. Yoga asana is one tool to do that. When you focus on natural alignment in Yoga asana, it creates consciousness that you can carry into how you sit, walk and stand in the rest of life. Likewise, if you nurture good alignment in daily life, you can avoid common pitfalls, such as hyperextended elbows and knees, in your asana practice. If you routinely push your body beyond its limits, or unnaturally yank on delicate joints and tendons, you will experience the opposite of Yoga – disconnection and pain.
The purpose of Yoga asana is to make your body comfortable enough to sit in meditation so that it's not a distraction for your mind. This provides you the opportunity to experience the true essence of Yoga – self-realization. The connection that results between body, mind and spirit brings ease, comfort and vibrant health in all of life.
Tips for great alignment
Patterns of alignment in your body are learned and can be easily unlearned at any point in your life. Throughout the rest of the day, tune in to your body to see your tendencies. Do you lean into one hip? Do you slouch? Is your pelvis tilted forward? Do you walk with splayed feet? Once you identify your body’s learned patterns, you can begin to retrain yourself to work within your natural range of motion. Here are a few tips to guide you along the way:
When we use our bones and muscles the way they were intended, we can experience the true joy of existence – living without pain or discomfort for the rest of our lives. Focus on your alignment on and off the mat and you’ll understand the true essence of Yoga as a daily practice.
If you want to learn how to apply the teachings of Yoga to all parts of your life, apply for our Practical Applications of Yoga intensive or our 200-hour Yoga teacher training, both held on beautiful Kaua'i.
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