Finding Individual Optimal Alignment

The spine is the only organ in the body protected by bones. It is so important and needs protection because it houses the nervous system. The spine contains tiny muscles called mechanoreceptors which provide sensory information to the brain about what your spine and body is doing. This is called proprioception.

If your body is not in alignment, these muscles will send faulty information to your brain resulting in a decreased ability to balance. Alignment should be viewed as a relationship since we are always moving.  This means that optimal posture to attain alignment is dynamic, fluid, and based on a range for the individual, rather than a rigid idea of one size or position fits all.

What does optimal alignment look like for you? Rather than focusing on what it looks like, think of what does balance feel like? Practice spherical (360 degree) breathing while standing, from your pelvis all the way up to the crown of your head, to find length and space throughout the body. This will stack all of the joints to find YOUR optimal alignment & produce a tensionless state physical state, which can affect your emotional and/or mental state.

The mind affects the body and the body is a conduit to the mind. Happiness, sadness, anger.. these states all affect how the body feels. Having poor alignment from physical posture or emotional distress creates tension at the cellular level and can show up physiologically in the body. Releasing tension in our body can reduce tension in our lives. This leads to acting from a higher self that is concerned with the world around them rather than selfish preoccupations. Having greater awareness outside of ourselves helps us to become connected & see the bigger picture and promotes global wellness. Setting ourselves up to bring forth a centered self allows us to selflessly serve others.

When you are in a yoga class, you can ask for certain poses or positions to help you notice the state of your physiological or emotional alignment. A few physical examples.. stand in mountain pose for a while to see if you are shifting your weight more into your quads, to the left side, etc. Try half moon to see if you can stack your hips and completely open up your chest with your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Take a high plank and feel your weight evenly distributed through all of your limbs, especially pressing down through all your fingers to actively engage. For an emotional example, try camel pose to take a chest opener if you notice you are feeling closed off and disconnected. This pose can bring about vulnerability and openness to help you relax, trust, and find your centered, calm self.

Poses can be called due to physiological or emotional needs to find individual optimal alignment. The job of the instructor is to read the class and provide a sequence that helps each student walk away feeling more balanced. The job of the student is to focus on proximal stability by building a strong core before moving on to progress distal mobility. The work of staying aligned is a skill and will help build physical, mental, and emotional strength.

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