I read a lovely blog on alignment earlier, which inspired me to contemplate it… again,… and share my thoughts, scary, but here they are.
Alignment matters, from my perspective, an Anusara perspective. When I’m in alignment, I feel happy, connected to my Self and the world, I feel free; when I’m out of alignment, I feel contracted, alone and stuck, not free.
As a yoga student in class, I want to know ‘why’ the teacher wants me to align in a certain way, and I want to know ‘to what’ or ‘to whom’ am I aligning? Kim artha, for what purpose, why? The ‘goal, reason, purpose’ of our practice is to awaken to and recognize Supreme Consciousness in ourselves, each other and all beings and things, sentient and non-sentient.
My lineage, (a lineage is considered when it’s teachers can be traced three generations back) is an “Align with the Divine” hatha yoga practice, Anusara. In Anusara, the ‘why‘ we align is to remember and express the highest part of ourselves, Divine Spirit, which is first the ‘to what’ we align to. We align to the Highest first, to the Divine.
Based on the premise that non-dual Supreme Consciousness is the case, (our Essence), the five bio-mechanical Universal Principles of Alignment
(UPA’s) are applied sequentially with balanced action in every pose. Our physical outer Material body aligns to our inner subtle Energy body, aka the inner manifestation of Divine Spirit that is both eternal, yet constantly changing and becoming us. This is the ‘how’ we Align to the Divine, with principles based on Nature, not rules dictated from outside. (Key = you can use the UPA’s to be in the Flow in every area of life…they work if you actually apply the knowledge!)
And of course there is ‘what’ are we doing? We are doing the physical hatha yoga practice as an expression of beauty and art, to awaken to and celebrate Ultimacy expressed as the multitudes of diversity.
This is what I love about alignment. It took the edge off me trying to transcend this life, trying to get to Oneness, trying to stop the inner currents, my vrttis, that would take at least a whole lifetime.
Because the UPA’s are universal they can work for anyone, they worked for me. As my teacher John Friend says, “Good Therapy is Good Alignment. When you align with Nature, healing happens.” Good alignment and any movement towards optimal alignment is healing. Anyone can actually do almost any pose to their fullest potential at that moment in time and feel better! Whether it is a 70 year old grandmother (or 50!) or a 25 year old man, anyone can experience an inner illumination and healing. The Heart’s desire plus good alignment and balanced action equals a opening that reflects the inner radiance in the outer form of the pose. The best thing about the alignment technique of Anusara (besides being relieved of pain and suffering) is doing it in a class with other people who share the same vision of CommonUnity and love for their world,.. our world, all of us creating art, beauty and love through yoga.
The benefits of good alignment from the Anusara perspective are innumerable. When there is good alignment in the physical postures the yogi heals, experiences her/his Essence, begins to recognize It in the outer world, experiences a greater vitality, is happier, starts loving life again and expresses her/him self in the world in a sweeter, kinder, nicer way, creating ripples, waves of loving kindness through the ocean of embodied time and space. If everyone would get their thighs back, the whole world would be a happier place! (I’m serious!)
In our tradition, it’s always the Highest first. The ‘iti sampradaya chara’ of good alignment (what it means to our lineage, according to us) is to awaken to the Source within, to recognize that we are the embodiment of Spirit, and we are here to awaken with each other. We are always connected to Spirit and each other. Ultimately, we become our own best Soul friend, (Gita 6:5) learn to love ourselves and love each other. This is the highest teaching, and this is why we ‘Align to the Divine’. Love….Now.