Alignment in Iyengar Yoga Poses (Asanas)
It is commonly known that alignment is crucial for positioning the body during yoga practice. What is less known is how alignment is necessary for allowing energy to flow throughout the body.
Tala Rubiana in Adhomukha svanasana(downward facing dog pose)
Alignment is a cornerstone of the practice of Iyengar Yoga. Even beginning practitioners of Iyengar Yoga know the value of alignment in terms of positioning the body during the practice of asana, but what is less commonly known is the importance of alignment with respect to energy flow in the body.
According to yoga masters, every person has many layers called koshas, literally meaning “sheaths” or “bodies.” A person’s outermost layer is a physical layer that makes up the material body. The next layer is called pranamayakosha, and is the energy layer that is concerned with prana. As the life force, prana is all physical, mental, intellectual, sexual, spiritual, and cosmic energy. To us, prana is seen as vigor, vitality, and spirit. These two layers are different but connected, which is where alignment comes into play. Energy flows like water, and can be impeded by blockages. Proper alignment allows energy to flow freely throughout the body.
The connection between alignment and energy levels is most apparent during the practice of pranayama. Breath is the vehicle for prana, the life force. For example, when you have bad posture while sitting and standing, you will feel heavy and more easily tired. When your breathing is restricted, your energy is blocked. Conversely, when you sit with an open chest and relaxed diaphragm, your breath flows freely, and your energy will increase. By aligning the body to create physical balance and internal space, you can deepen the breath and increase your energy.