As a yoga teacher, I obsess over alignment. I discuss physical alignment incessantly and ask you to explore it and continue to finesse it. I also ask that you align yourself with other practices, the yamas, niyamas and other philosophical and esoteric practices when we are working in class. It begs the question: why? What is so interesting about alignment? And what are you aligning yourself with?
These are not small questions. Over the last week, with Nelson Mandela’s passing, I have been pondering this word: alignment. We would be so lucky in our life time to have access to learn from one other human like Mandela, a true Maha teacher and mentor.He changed history and the world with his actions and his thoughts. When I read his speeches or about him I am struck with his sense of alignment. He somehow was able to stay very clear about what was in line with his deep sense of right and wrong, even in the midst of huge adversity and violence. Talk about a sattvic personality! Someone who was truly clean about not falling into rajas (passion) or tamas (ignorance) but rather practiced and lived very fully in sattva (purity and goodness). He never lost sight of who he was and what he stood for. He stood strong in his center, in his plum line and never gave his power over to his captors or anyone else. His true north was so strong that he was willing to die for it.
Physical alignment certainly helps your body create the right amount of space for your muscles, tissue and joints to keep it healthy and supple. But that is merely the beginning of the depth of the practice. On a larger scale, the experience of alignment is one that brings you into relationship with your deepest sense of self. In other words, it brings you home to your roots and core, to your spirit, so that when you radiate out, you are coming from a sound and powerful place. When you drop in and align yourself, there is a sense of profound support that surfaces because you are tapping into a well and energy that is already in existence and larger than anything you could create.
On the flip side, it is easy to feel when you are misaligned because you have to muscle through things. Both on a physical level and sometimes on an emotional and psychological level.
So it is easy to think , “Wow, that is huge. I don’t even think I can start to take that on. I’m busy and that seems like a really big task.” But perhaps if you sit for a moment, feel your feet on the ground and your seat on the chair; if you close your eyes for even a minute and bring your awareness to your breath; if you follow the inhale as it moves down the front of the spine and the exhale as it moves up the back of the spine and take a few breaths, you may just be able to align yourself a little bit better. The breath acts like a tuning fork, bringing you back home and settles you in your true north.
Especially over the holidays, when you may get too busy to have a full asana practice or you may be traveling. This small practice might play a big part in keeping you sane and redirect you to your spirit and the things that really matter to you.
May we all be brave enough to align ourselves to the brightest part of our own greatness. And may we continue to learn from those who do. Happy Holidays Yogis!!! May we change the world in small or big meaningful ways this year…