It used to be that there was only a slight variation in the way different lineages of yoga were taught. The cues and verbiage may be different, but for the most part the anatomical alignment was very similar. Some movements were discouraged as being detrimental to the safety and alignment of the body.
But over the last few years I am seeing constant changes of thought as to the correct alignment in different postures and the way we move in our practice. I receive articles in my inbox weekly as to new thoughts to age old views on alignment.
As teachers we may have been told to never roll up from a standing forward fold due to the possible compression of the lumbar discs and danger to those suffering from osteoporosis, although I see more and more teachers cuing this movement as being safe.
Encouraging students to stand in alignment, meaning all ten toes facing forward and distributing their weight evenly between the feet, now I receive an article that this may not always be the best alignment cue.
There are different thoughts as to how to cue a seated twist, the safest way to cue Triangle (Trikanasana), or the pelvis alignment in Pyramid pose (Parsvotanasana). Just last week I watched a video by a well-respected yoga teacher on how we as teachers have been correcting the shoulder placement in downdog incorrect all these years.
I have been teaching yoga for 17 years now, and every week I am asked (via yoga articles and videos) to re-think everything I have been taught. It seems it is no longer just a slight variation from lineage to lineage, but instead an overall change in the way we look at anatomy and its impact on yoga postures.
For a while I have been letting this drive me crazy, trying to keep up with all this new advice and trying to change and adjust to new ways of practicing and cuing. I keep thinking that many advanced teachers are coming to have a greater understanding of the human body and kinesiology, so they must be right, but is this always so? Do we understand so much more than the teachers that have come before us, B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, Krisnamacharya.
I’ve come to realize that there isn’t a one size fits all cue. While I may not cue my students to roll up from a forward fold, that isn’t to say it wouldn’t be safe or comfortable for some.
Each time I encounter a ‘new way of thinking’ in regards to the alignment in a posture, I’m going to try it and see how it fits with my body, to understand the alignment anatomy behind the change and determine if it makes sense both physically and mentally to make the change.
I may be cuing some postures differently than I did before, I may stop using certain cues, and I may stick with many of the tried and true cues. All I can do is my best for my students, try and keep them safe, offer them options and let them decide what works for their body’s.
At Ignite Yoga, we believe that yoga is for everyone–For people of all ages and all walks of life.