Alignment is a total buzz word in yoga. That being said, the concept of aligning the body is crucial in maintaining a safe and sustainable practice for years to come.
Improper alignment can lead to injuries, changes in posture, and actually do more harm in your yoga asana practice than good. Here are some ideas of how to stay well aligned in your physical yoga practice.
1. Read and read and read.
There are loads of great books on yoga alignment, technique and cueing! Educating yourself is the first step to improving your yoga practice. The Key Poses of Yoga by Ray Long is a stunning bit of literature containing very finite anatomical information on how to align the body correctly.
If muscles and bones are overwhelming to you, check out Donna Farhi’s Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit for a lighter approach to alignment.
2. Look and study visually.
Check out photos of advanced yogis. Don’t just seek out your average sensational Instagrammer, really look for yoga teachers who are fanatical about their own alignment.
Study their photos, see how their bodies look in each pose. Check out Matt Giordano (@theyogimatt) or Chris Chavez, two of my favorite well-aligned men.
3. Photograph your practice.
Taking photos or videos of your own practice is a really fantastic way to notice your body’s habit and mishaps. Examining your personal yoga practice with a critical eye will tremendously help your alignment. Just don’t get too hard on yourself. We all mess up sometimes.
4. Use grids.
Yoga mats with alignment grids are super great for newcomers and perfectionists. These are beneficial for helping your body make muscle memories of where it needs to be energetically.
Lifeform makes an excellent one, but if you don’t want to dish out for an expensive mat with lines all over it, an alternative would be to buy and inexpensive mat or even a secondhand one from a friend or studio, and Sharpie it up with some lines.
5. Find a great teacher.
Probably the best and most traditional way to find and maintain great alignment technique in yoga is to find a great teacher.
An experienced, well-trained yoga instructor will be able to adjust your body into its own perfect alignment, as well as verbally cue you into your best expression of the poses. Seek out the best yoga instructor for you—not just energetically, spiritually and soulfully, but physically too.
What other tips and practices would you add to this list?