Alignment. Chances are you’ve heard this term for describing the positioning of our bodies in yoga postures. But what is alignment, really? What is it for? Is it simply the organization of our muscles, bones, tendons and organs, or is it something else?
Alignment is a practice of fine tuning the body. All vehicles require tune ups from time to time. When we bring our cars to the mechanic they might perform a wheel alignment and check the suspension. These adjustments help to keep your car functioning at an optimal level.
It’s the same with our body-vehicles. Yoga poses help to improve the functioning of your body by reversing the effects of poor postural habits, and from overworking or underworking the body. As our alignment improves so does our state of mind. When we’re not distracted by physical discomforts we’re free to focus on other pursuits.
Alignment develops through consistent, comprehensive yoga practice. Over time, practitioners begin to develop an increased level of awareness of their bodies and minds. This heightened sensitivity permeates other aspects of their lives. American yoga master Erich Schiffman explains:
“The beauty of being more sensitive lies in the discovery that beneficial things naturally start feeling good, better than before, and therefore become more attractive to you. Things that are bad for you no longer hold the attraction they once may have had. Your diet, for example, may undergo an effortless change. Certain foods you previously enjoyed may no longer be so appealing, and previously uninteresting foods may now entice you. Lifestyle habits may also change without conscious determination.”
By exploring our alignment we can begin to understand the mind-body connection. As we unravel the layers of our being we may discover how our outer and inner state parallel one another. The peace of mind you feel after a good yoga practice is a reflection of the freedom you feel in your body.
When you’re in “the zone” life takes on a fluid quality. This occurs in our interactions, our daily tasks, and our ability to move seamlessly through our days. This level of impeccability is like driving a sports car through a series of green lights. As we begin to tap into the intelligent design of the bodymind our confidence improves.
As our sensitivity develops we’ll become more aware of the times when we’re not in the zone. There may be a noticeable dissonance in our bodies, minds and environments. Some tell tale signs of needing a tune up include:
- Mental tape-loops
- Aches and pains
- Feeling distracted
- Encountering technical “speed bumps”
- Increased irritability
- Spilling things
- Low energy levels
- Anti-social tendencies
- Wasting money
The first step is to notice that something feels off. Then take a moment to pause and listen to your intuition. The answer will appear if you simply ask yourself “What do I need right now?” Exercise, a home cooked meal, a massage or a good night’s sleep? Some time in nature or a good laugh with a friend?
These are all good forms of mind body tune ups. Another tune up tool is saucha, one of the niyamas (observances) of yoga. Saucha refers to purity in mind, body, and speech. Practicing saucha is a holistic form of spring cleaning. Next time you’re feeling a little funky try taking a shower, washing your yoga mat, emptying your inbox, or freshening up your living space.
What sorts of mind body tune ups do you practice? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.