I admit it, in my own practice I have been guilty of “alignment envy”; when I take photos for the blog of myself, I am critical and often discard several attempts before settling on one.
I have made progress since my early days of practice; doing yoga teacher training when you are the oldest student and over half the class are the age of your children, helped with that! I do believe, and practice what I preach, that finding the shape of each pose that feels right in our bodies, is how we should practice. How many yoga classes have we taken only to hear the instructor tell us when practicing Warrior 1 to have both hip points to the front of the class “like headlights”. Bottom line, that does not work in everyone’s body and can be injurious, especially to the lower back. If we focus on the real reason we practice, to yoke our mind, breath and body and feel better, we will have a strong and rewarding practice.
Over the past year of teaching especially, I have stepped away from over cueing individuals and focus on spotting alignment that could be injurious or suggest ways to feel better and stronger. Everyone’s body and practice is different, and most of us, unless we are hyper-mobile, are not going to look like B.K.S. Iyengar in Light on Yoga (one of the best yoga texts by the way). I am suggesting we spend time enjoying our practice, meeting our body where it is and just “go with the flow” (a vinyasa flow that is!). Practicing yoga the way that feels good.
Our Practice – Virabhadrasana 1 -Warrior One
Warrior one pose is central to many of our yoga practices. It also can be very challenging, especially if we follow some of the traditional cues, including thinking that the back foot always needs to be flat on the floor and the hips should be perfectly square to the front of the room “like headlights”.
There are many schools of thought on this pose, Kripalu teaches this pose with the back heel lifted (we call it Crescent Warrior). I like to cue widening the legs like train tracks versus a tight rope. If the hip on the back leg is somewhat open, so be it, it likely is the way your body is made and will allow you to take the pose without injury.
The benefits of the pose (done without injury) include:
Increased flexibility in the hips and shoulders
Heart/chest opening – opening heart to the world!
Increased strength in legs, ankles and back.
I have shared both of these articles before and think they are worth resharing! ne explores the anatomy of the pose and how to avoid injury and the other, from Kripalu, explains why they teach the lifted heel version there.
Meditation – How Do We Feel Doing Yoga (Not How We Look)
“Yoga is a mirror to look at ourselves from within”– BKS Iyengar
“The success of Yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships.” ― T.K.V. Desikachar
Nurturing With Food – Pasta with Roasted Vegetables
Since I will be in Italy when you read this, and likely eating pasta, I thought you might enjoy this recipe that Peter created last year.
See you on the mat!