Why Alignment is Important in Yoga by Guest Blogger, Emma Lymn
Looking from the outside in, yoga may seem like just another form of physical activity. While it does offer many of the benefits of exercise, it does come with a few subtleties that make it hard to learn on your own.
Among them is the concept of alignment. It is why you’ll often hear the words “lengthen your spine” or “stacking the joints” in yoga classes.
What is Alignment?
A modest definition of alignment would be how we position our bodies to achieve the full benefit of a yoga pose without having any discomfort or risk injuring ourselves.
Even though alignment plays an important role in a healthy yoga session, it is a topic that isn’t always understood or agreed upon.
Our body movements are always the net sum of various body parts. Alignment lets you move all your body parts in tandem with each other.
But often, many yoga enthusiasts make the mistake of stretching or rather moving the more flexible parts of their bodies. This leaves the more rigid and static muscles idle. Doing so often leads to improper posture. And, ultimately results in pain.
One of the aims of any yoga session is to strengthen the weaker muscles and loosen up the stiff muscles. If for any reason the natural flow of the body is restricted, whether intentionally or not, it can result in pain or injury. Therefore, proper alignment is vital for getting your muscles to work optimally at the right level of relaxation.
Since everyone’s body proportions are different, there‘s no definitive alignment posture. This means that no two people can do an asana in the very exact same way. But, you can achieve the correct alignment by testing your posture against your plumb line.
A good high-quality yoga mat like YogaForce’s A-Line mats also makes this easier. It prevents unnecessary slipping and helps with overall balance. In doing so, you’re able to achieve correct alignment consistently.
Why Correct Alignment Matters in Yoga
1) It Reduces Your Risk of Injury
Alignment has some universal principles that are geared towards injury prevention. Some of these principles are aimed at avoiding some common causes of yoga injuries. Among them are locking joints and scrunching your shoulders to your ears during inversions.
Proper yoga alignment also ensures that you build body strength by engaging all your muscles evenly in a coordinated manner. This lets you boost your strength without exerting too much pressure on any particular muscle or joint.
When it comes to your spine, correct alignment decreases the amount of stress placed on the ligaments that hold it together. Similarly, alignment reduces the abnormal wear and tear of joints in your body. Thus, helping you avoid conditions such as arthritis later on.
2) Biomechanical Efficiency
From a biomechanical perspective, properly aligned muscles and joints optimize your available power. This means you’re able to achieve maximum results in a shorter period of time. Correct alignment also stacks your joints together, allowing you to use your strength more efficiently. As a result, there’s less straining. And, it will be easier to breathe.
3) Lets You Conserve Energy
With good alignment, you also work smarter, rather than harder. In doing so, you’re able to utilize your body’s energy efficiently. This lets you conserve more energy since you don’t have to compensate for being out of line.
4) Reduces Fatigued
Yoga practice can be quite challenging, especially if you’re just starting out. This is mainly due to fatigue that comes with training. However, you can considerably reduce this level of fatigue by performing the yoga poses correctly.
According to the Yoga Journal, alignment allows you to increase blood flow. This lets you use your muscles more efficiently which translate to less energy use. And, consequently less fatigue.
5) Builds Strength
Yoga is just like any other exercise, be it cycling or swimming. Having good alignment keeps your joints in their proper positions. This produces optimal muscle performance which translates to power. In addition, it helps prevent your spine, joints, and muscles from getting into awkward angles and positions.
6) Better Energy Flow
A perfect analogy of alignment would be to view it as a canyon wall that allows rivers and streams to flow. Alignment creates a channel for energy to move fluidly throughout your body during yoga practice.
Energy flow is not only vital for your physical health, but it also has a positive impact on your mental as well as spiritual health. By allowing energy to move through your body, it puts energy where your body needs it most.
7) Better Appearance
Besides yoga sessions, correct alignment also helps you be aware of your posture in your everyday life. This ultimately goes a long way in enhancing a good physical posture and appearance.
Bio: Emma Lymn
Emma is the editor of HealthGrinder.com. She is passionate about healthy living and nutrition. Once overweight, she hopes to share her experiences on how eating healthy and exercise can turn things around.