Alignment is key to keeping your joints and body healthy during any yoga practice, no matter how rigorous you intend it to be. Our bodies need to remain safe throughout each of the asanas or poses in order to make the practice a long-term part of our lives. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned yogi who practices with the masters, it never hurts to take a small step back to remind yourself about proper alignment through some of the basic poses.
What should you keep in mind during your next yoga session? Keep these top reminders at the forefront of your mind as you move with the breath.
Keep your spine long.
Your back is a necessary part of moving through most of your practice, whether you’re focused on standing or seated poses. Our natural tendency is to reach as deeply as possible into a position to demonstrate our flexibility. Even as we do other day-to-day activities like reading, working at a desk, or driving, we tend to hunch our shoulders and round our spine in a way that compromises its integrity.
This reminder tells us to do just the opposite. In your next practice, focus on coming up out of a pose just enough that you can keep your spine long and straight. It may feel like your practice isn’t going as deep, but it will be more beneficial for your back in the long-run.
Pay attention to your feet in standing poses.
For most of us, it’s obvious that our feet do a great deal for us in our standing poses. However, we don’t often take much time to consider how they’re doing the work. We know we are practicing proper alignment when we are equally grounded through all parts of the feet.
Weight should be distributed not just towards the toes or towards the heels but equally throughout the entire sole of the foot. You also need to ensure that the weight isn’t located in just one side of the foot, whether inside or outside, due to the stress it can cause to your ankles and knees.
Don’t put unnecessary stress on your knees.
Knees are a critical element in our daily movement and functioning, so we need to treat them with respect. It can be easy to overextend the ligaments and muscles in our knees in any number of poses. For example, your front knee shouldn’t extend over the toes of your foot as you sink deep into a warrior II pose. It also shouldn’t be folded in toward the big-toe side of your foot.
When you’re in a standing position, remember to keep your knees soft also. This can help the blood to better flow throughout your legs and prepares your body for future movements.
Both of these common mistakes can jeopardize the health of your knees, making continued movement painful far into the future. Be very considerate of how much work your knees are doing and attempt to minimize any potential injuries in this way.