I was practicing yoga on the deck today (one of many reasons I will never complain about being a grown-ass woman living with my parents: private home/yard surrounded by nature where the continuous sound of birds overrides the sound of traffic) and I had one of those common sense epiphanies. Always love those. And me being me, I got super meta about it. I was simply re-centering myself in Tadasana, the blueprint of all poses (aka standing in anatomical neutral). Just as I noticed tension in my low back I was guided by the words: “Just come back into alignment to avoid injury.” As I scooped my tail and relaxed my lower ribs, my back calmed.
Good advice, I’d say. Proper alignment it crucial to injury prevention. I’ve been practicing alignment-based yoga for years and have loved getting technical and geeking out about body mechanics and how they effect our non-physical layers. I also have a long history of chronic injuries, and I sense that a part of my fascination with alignment has to do with avoiding pain. The truth is that with my ultra sensitive nature I end up feeling pain after most of my practices. I have a tendency to look at this in two ways:
1. My injuries run deep enough that they will never heal.
2. I failed at alignment and that’s why I am in pain…I STILLLLLL need to work on boundaries. Typical.
Neither are very positive… At this particular moment I realized I have been approaching alignment as a form of protection, and have been ignoring the overall essence of what alignment is: It is what allows for all things to manifest. It is the foundation for us to reach out and create the pose of our choice with integrity and wisdom. It is what keeps us balanced and centered so that we can reach and stretch and explore sensations that keep us engaged and curious about living. It is the framework for feeling, rather than just doing and thinking. Form means nothing, can provide no nourishment when the alignment is not there. You can take any position you want, and it will not transform you unless you are holding yourself in such a way that allows energy to flow smoothly. Lack of integrity is what makes us scattered, compressed or unreceptive.
I will say that I have excellent form and integrity. Yet, I often “reach”because I should, and not as an authentic result of energy flow. It is interesting that my injuries keep nagging, while I keep nagging myself, to uphold structure and safety, and let possibility and potential stay on the back burner. I bet you will be surprised (not…ha!) to hear that I have lived my entire life playing it safe, and now I want to explore what alignment can do for my spirit, or rather how my spirit will guide me when I am in alignment, and can access the sweet space of expansion and freedom. (How exciting and scary!!!) We cannot make such things happen by fighting. I must not punish myself for having imbalanced flesh. It is only trying to communicate what I do not yet know how to care for.
We cannot assume that time is what determines the outcome. Time means nothing when our actions and intentions do not support our desires. Time is what happens in our minds while we learn how to live in harmony, and thus for dreams to enter reality. When things don’t manifest we often assume or worry that they never will, and that they are not meant to be (the job, the vacation, the love, the healing etc). This may not be so, for things will only manifest when they are meant to, which is when your intentions and your actions are aligned with what you seek. Things can happen, shift, transform, manifest immediately if we are ready. We can can learn in an instant if we are open to it, and if we can handle the shift it will create in us.
This is not to say that I expect to accelerate through all my lessons, and quickly reclaim my status as back-bending queen. Not at all. I don’t even know if that would serve me. (As long as I can do Mermaid Pose and embody my Disney childhood I’m happy.) However, I do claim a new intention and a renewed relationship with alignment on and off the mat. That is to play in the realm of what is possible and what I am wanting, rather than containing myself for the sake of wishfully imagined safety.