Along the journey we hear a lot of do’s and don’ts, some musts and a few nevers. Often, depending on the tradition you’re studying or teaching, these “rules” may completely oppose what’s being taught just down the hall.
One tradition may say “Never this” and the other says “Always that.” Many teachers, through trust in their teachers, and their own understanding of anatomy, movement, the human form, and self-exploration, tell others how to stand, which muscles to engage, what to limbs to spin, firm, relax, lengthen...
…and, yet, I’ve noticed that within this bag of bones, skin, connective tissue is a human.
A human that has been handed down a particular set of DNA and is having a human experience in the embodied form they’re inhabiting. Sometimes that body is open and other times it is closed, tensing, grieving, celebrating, enlivened or exhausted. Within that is the Atman (the soul) of this being.
When we try to describe or convey alignment, we’re really looking to find the greatest vitality and most amount of ease in our being. This makes space to experience the most amount of integration and connection in our own body and clears a pathway for a mind–heart harmony.
In other words, it’s ultimately not about where we put our hands or how we rotate our thighs. It’s about the experience as an energetic being. It’s about a taste of what it feels like to be whole.
All too often we move through our body as if its not right or enough. From a sense of lack (through our experience or a bombardment of images all around us), we lose trust in the body’s innate wisdom—this wisdom that lives in our cells.
Of course, these cells hold old habits and patterns handed down from our ancestors and established through our life experiences. Suggestions about what to engage, how to wrap, spiral, stack can help us undo the habits and patterns and establish new ones that better support our integration. Our wholeness. Our full humanity.
We have these three bodies which relate to the sthula sharira, gross structural form, the sukshma sharira, subtle body, and the karana sharira, causal body, the seat of the soul.
Alignment allows us to integrate our many aspects into a cohesive whole. When we settle our shoulder blades or engage our core, we become awake to our gross body, our muscular engagement and our soul, the Atman, and the energetic extension from this seed aspect of this being we call “I.”
We bring awareness to the relationship that exists throughout our body/mind/soul. Then, all of our actions—on and off the mat—move from that awareness.
It is powerful to begin with an exploration of body mechanics, pragmatically stacking, engaging, creating more stability and mobility. But alignment is not the end game…it is the beginning of a process that helps us safely and methodically shift old limited patterns and perceptions; a process that may allow us to feel into the reality of the divine nature dwelling in ever cell of this body and it’s innate wisdom.