“Yoga means addition – addition of energy, strength and beauty to body, mind and soul.” - Amit Ray
Whether you’re doing kundalini, nidra, prenatal, Iyengar, or dynamic yoga, you need to be in good health to do yoga. Of course, there’s also relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness, but you need to be flexible in order to do the asanas (poses) and muscle strength, especially if you’re doing some of the more demanding poses.
While the 21st June is the International Day of Yoga, you need to be thinking about yoga every other day of the year, too. Doing yoga is all about developing your mind, body, and spirit at the same time whether you’re attending group yoga classes or individual classes.
When you show up to a beginner yoga class, be it hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, ashtanga yoga, or Iyengar yoga, all types of yoga tend to involve yoga postures, stretches, pranayama (breathing techniques), and meditative practices which are designed to help you relax, gain a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you, and improve your wellness through healing yogic actions.
Of course, if you don't do these yoga practices correctly, you're unlikely to enjoy the benefits of them. When it comes to doing an asana (a posture you adopt during yoga sessions), you need to work on your alignment. Alignment, to put it simply, is how effectively you do yoga poses.
So how can you work on your yoga alignment?
In this article, we're going to look at exactly what alignment is, how you can improve it, how practising yoga with a teacher can help you with alignment, what alignment flow yoga is, and how you can know if your alignment is good or bad.
What Is Yoga Alignment?
Yoga is more than a discipline and more than a sport, you need to master techniques and develop knowledge. This all starts with your alignment. Alignment is the ideal way to adopt a yoga pose when doing a series of asanas. This is a simple and mechanical definition that can help you better understand what you’re supposed to be doing.
Asanas (the poses used in yoga) are the tools that allow us to achieve fulfilment and mindfulness and alignment are the techniques that help us use these tools as effectively as possible. Of course, you won’t find rules in yoga but rather guidelines. Alignment is said to help energy circulate throughout your body more effectively.
If you practise yoga regularly, you’re going to have to often use each part of your body, mind, and spirit. Proper alignment can help you get the most out of every single activity that you do. This even includes improving your self-awareness. Adopting certain poses comes with its own benefits as long as you do it right.
Improving Your Alignment: Practising Asanas
Just like any other discipline, yoga is made up of all the techniques you need to master, the conventions that define it, and combining the two effectively. By doing this, you’ll be able to adopt the poses better and make each of them more effective and beneficial for both your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. However, achieving perfect alignment when adopting asanas takes a lot of work and patience.
This is why, just like in any other sporting discipline, you need to train again and again and again. By working on sequences of asanas, both your alignment and technique will improve. Additionally, you’ll see yourself getting better at breathing, letting go, and exercising.
You can only improve your alignment by working on it in every single pose you do. Whether you’re doing yoga at home, group classes, online yoga lessons, or beginners’ yoga lessons, correct alignment can improve your mind, body, and spirit. Your spine will definitely thank you.
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Practising Yoga with a Teacher
Of all the ways to improve your alignment during yoga, this is arguably the best one. An instructor, whether you’re a yoga beginner or not, will always be useful for giving you advice on how to improve your alignment during asanas. Your yoga instructor will have been through it all and they’ll know whether your back isn’t straight enough, etc.
With another set of eyes checking what you do, they’ll be able to correct you when you go wrong. Don’t forget two important little things. The first is that yoga isn’t just about alignment and that not having perfect alignment won’t be the end of your yoga career.
The second thing is that alignment, while a physical skill, isn’t the same as your typical types of working out. It’s an integral part of yoga which brings balance to each session and inner peace. We need to be able to recentre and ensure that our alignment aids our movement.
Practising Alignment Flow Yoga
While the theory is quite difficult to put into practice, for those struggling with yoga, there’s also alignment flow yoga. Alignment flow yoga is a style of yoga that focuses on alignment. This is the best type of yoga for working on your alignment, of course.
Strength, endurance, flexibility, and breathing will all be worked on. Thus, with breathing exercises and a spiritual approach, you can practise different yoga poses without needing blocks, belts, etc. The poses are all designed to make your body more aligned and help you enjoy the health benefits of yoga.
This can all be done with the help of a yoga instructor or tutor, who won’t hesitate to correct you when you’re doing a pose wrong. It’s not about losing weight, battling stress, or meditating (although alignment flow yoga can still help), but rather learning how to do yoga poses in order to get healthier and manage pain.
Don't forget that the yoga practice also involves controlling your breath as well as gentle stretching and doing different poses. Ask your yoga teachers about how you incorporate breathing more effectively into your yoga or check out our article on the matter.
Telling the Difference Between Good Alignment and Bad Alignment
Finally, being able to tell whether your alignment is good is key to telling whether or not you’re good at yoga. You’re going to use this to inform everything you do in yoga. You need to ensure that you’re doing each pose correct and whether or not you can improve your alignment.
Alignment manifests itself in the yogi themselves.
Can you see the difference? Does it hurt to doing this position? Is practising yoga making less stressed and more relaxed?
All these questions will tell you how effective your yoga is.
Proper alignment will give you the answers to these questions and you need to pay attention to everything you’re finding out. Let’s not forget that yoga is a reflective practice and alignment is a huge part of it. When your body, mind, and spirit are working together, you can bet that your alignment is perfect. When you practice yoga, your body and mind will get used to working together a relieve anxiety, tension, and reduce stress.
Thus, in just a few sessions, you’ll probably greatly improve your alignment. By regularly doing different poses and listening to your body, you’ll achieve perfect alignment which will help you better understand your mind, body, and spirit.
So are you ready for the challenge?
If you're interested in doing yoga and improving your alignment, you should probably start looking for a yoga instructor to help you. On Superprof, you can search for both online yoga teachers who teach via webcam or local instructors who teach yoga near where you live.
While one-on-one yoga sessions are more effective than online tutorials, the latter tend to be cheaper as the instructors have fewer expenses. However, it's much harder for an online yoga instructor to correct your alignment as they won't be able to directly influence how you do each asana.
If you want to save money and still get face-to-face yoga sessions, consider getting a few friends together to work with a private yoga instructor. The instructor can offer each student a discount which means every student will save money and the tutor will get more per hour than they would with a single student.
Finally, a lot of the instructors on Superprof offer the first hour for free so make sure you try a few different instructors before deciding upon which one you want to work with on improving your alignment.