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Introduction The Pranavayu “Core” system is a unique theory of alignment developed by David Magone in 2007. This system is the primary alignment methodology used by PranaVayu Yoga teachers. However, since the principles included here are universal, you will find that these techniques can be applied to any yoga practice regardless of discipline. These principles will help you to find comfortable versions of your postures where you can explore and discover a true balance between sthiram sukham asanam (softness and firmness in a pose). The system has been derived from simple mechanical principles that will help you understand how gravity affects the tension in your yoga poses and the means by which to reduce this tension by integrating the use of 9 lines of energy into your practice. The benefits of this unique alignment system include softening tension in yoga postures, reducing injury, and creating instantaneous changes in overall strength, balance and flexibility Foundations of PranaVayu Core Alignment System This section highlights the four main foundations of the PranaVayu Core System of Alignment, which includes:
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Using the skeleton to support body weight frees tension from the muscles and allows the muscles to more efficiently move the bones; Holding weight closer to center can result in instantaneous improvements in strength, range of motion and balance; Creating mechanical balance in the skeletal structure can help reduce injury; and Positioning the skeleton directly affects movement performance.
1) Using the skeleton to support body weight frees tension from the muscles and allows the muscles to more efficiently move the bones. The primary purpose of the human skeleton is to support our body’s weight, while the primary purpose of our muscles is to move our bones. When we adopt poor postural patterns that force our musculature to support our weight, we experience tight shoulders, lower back discomfort and areas of
chronic tension. By using our muscles to move our bones into positions where our bones can adequately support our body weight, we immediately experience improvements in overall strength and flexibility as tension is released from the muscles. 2) Holding weight closer to center can result in instantaneous improvements in strength, range of motion and balance. When we correctly position the weight of our head, torso and pelvis closer nearer our central axis, their collective weight naturally shifts out of our muscles and into our skeletal structure. As this tension is released into our bones, chronic blockages will begin to soften and areas that were previously tight begin to open. This release in tension allows us to hold our postures for longer periods of time and facilitates instantaneous changes in range of motion. 3) Creating mechanical balance in the skeletal structure can help reduce injury. Over time, poor postural patterns can lead to injury. Unfortunately, this frequently occurs in yoga practice. When we regularly hold a posture in a way that creates unnecessary tension in areas like the elbows or lower back, the tension slowly begins to create discomfort. The root of many muscular knots, strains and sprains can often be traced to inefficient body positioning. Learning to hold the body closer to center by stabilizing the three major axes of the body (central, tensile, compressive) will help you to reduce the overall strain you experience in your yoga postures and help you to practice with less pain for many years to come. 4) Skeletal positioning and movement performance are interdependent. Changes to one affect the other. There are nine lines locations throughout the skeletal structure that directly affect movement performance. Inefficient skeletal positioning in any of these lines creates unnecessary muscular tension. This tension can create muscular blockages that make simple motions more difficult to accomplish. As such, when we encounter a blocked range of motion, we first look to inefficiencies in our skeletal position before we try to fix the problem through strength building or flexibility enhancing exercises. By addressing
the root of the problem through repositioning the skeletal structure first, we can be assured that any supplementary practices we undertake to open the blockage will be easier to accomplish. Why Do We Need a New Theory of Alignment? Anyone who has gone to a more than a few yoga classes is sure to have noticed the tremendous variety in approaches and teaching styles. This variety has benefited our practice greatly. The recent popularity of yoga has inspired innovation and experimentation which has led to the creation of many highly effective disciplines. To date, thousands of people collectively practice styles such as Iyengar, Ashtanga, Anusara and many others to great benefit. Those who practice and teach these styles have collectively generated thousands of potential alignment tips drawn from the subjective experiences of each individual practice. While much of this information is very useful, it can be daunting for the aspiring yoga teacher to memorize and understand all of the different tips due to the sheer amount of the information that is currently available. The PranaVayu Core system of alignment has been created to make it easier for you to learn an efficient and effective alignment system that can benefit the many different types of people that practice yoga. The system is derived from simple mechanical principles that are commonly used to create balance and equilibrium in objects as diverse as the Sears tower and the leaning tower of Pisa. Since both animate and inanimate objects are affected by gravity in similar ways, the rules that apply to buildings and bridges can be applied to and benefit the human body as well. By using these principles to determine which alignment cues are the most effective, I have been able to reduce the total number of alignment fundamentals that you will need to learn in order to keep your body safe while you practice. By using these universal principles presented throughout this guide as a roadmap, these alignments points can be used collectively or individually to align any yoga pose that you choose to practice. The ideas presented in this guide will give you all the tools necessary to improve your postural patterns both on and off the mat. It is my hope that
the universal guidelines presented here will allow you to gain happier, healthier versions of your yoga postures for years to come. This guide will explore the essential bases of the PranaVayu Core System of Alignment and its applications. Overall, we’ll cover five topics:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 1.
The origins of the system The mechanics of alignment The basics of PranaVayu Core alignment: Stabilizing lines Cues for PranaVayu alignment The 9 action lines: Refining our Skeletal Position The Origins of the PranaVayu Core Alignment System The PranaVayu Core System of Alignment has been developed out of years of study of scientific, yogic and movement research. The primary influences found within in this guide have been drawn together from a variety of sources. The three most influential researchers and movement practitioners who provided the bases for this system were Mabel Todd, Dr. Lulu Sweigard, and Andre Bernard, whose profiles and contributions are briefly presented below.
Mabel Todd: Mabel Todd was an early movement pioneer and the founder of the imagery-based discipline Ideokinesis. Mabel Todd first postulated the idea that human body positioning and movement efficiency were interdependent in her seminal book, The Thinking Body first published in 1937. In this book, Todd proposed that the human body was like any machine and as such was subject to the same stresses and that affect any upright structure. Todd built her theory of human body positioning on the idea that holding the body’s weight closer to center could reduce the overall effort required to hold the body in alignment. Dr. Lulu Sweigard: Dr. Lulu Sweigard was a preeminent student of Mabel Todd and the author of Human Movement Potential: It’s Ideokinetic Facilitation. Dr. Sweigard was a researcher and movement specialist who researched the correlation between imagined motion, efficient
Reciprocally. their methodology proves to be insufficient to the needs of yoga practitioners who are required to align while twisting. To that end. Bernard’s work. Sweigard’s research suggested that using mental imagery to achieve equilibrium in nine parts of the skeletal structure could have positive outcomes on the human body. the results can be exhilarating. Dr. Sweigard’s research. we 22 . 3) Andre Bernard: Andre Bernard taught about skeletal positioning and movement performance in a series of movement-based workshops offered in the United States. The subject matter of these workshops has been recorded in the book. 2. while being upside down. we find that overall tension slowly recedes from the back. I believe that we can better position the body if we possess a deeper understanding of how forces like tension and compression affect our postures. Sweigard examined the theory that skeletal alignment and movement performance were interconnected.skeletal positioning and human postural patterns. Most of the engineering terminology and presentation in this paper is influenced by Mr. increased height. As such his work centered on explaining the mechanics behind Todd and Sweigard’s imagery-based work. turning and even. since most of Todd. The PranaVayu Core Alignment System draws from and modifies the nine line theory described in Dr. Sweigard and Bernard’s work was dedicated to correct positioning of the body through imagination exercises. Bernard was a student of Todd’s who held a Master’s degree in engineering. Like these movement specialists. The Mechanics of Alignment When yoga postures are practiced with good alignment. when we hold our postures in a less than efficient way. improved movement performance and even in some cases. I have adapted and augmented some of their theories in order to create a unique and comprehensive theory of alignment to meet the unique demands of an active yoga practice. Ideokinesis: A Creative Approach to Human Movement and Body Alignment. However. neck and shoulders. and we become very comfortable in our body overall. We gain the ability to explore untapped reservoirs of strength. Specifically. as evidenced through decreased back pain. Dr.
For example: Steel columns are better suited to support the weight of the 23 . As a result. we must first examine how gravitational forces affect your body and its postural patterns. Gravity The equilibrium of every object on our planet is tested by gravity and our body is no exception. Ironically. the object can be supported by one or a number of ways: 1) sitting or resting on something 2) hanging from another object or 3) by being braced by something else (Sweigard. prevents us from spinning off into space as our planet rotates around its axis and is the force that binds the earth. Gravity is defined “as a natural phenomenon by which objects with mass attract one another. As such. We refer to this force as compression. we explore the three forces that affect your yoga postures: gravity. Compression When an object such as a column is used to bear weight. the human body and most of the objects in the universe together. and is most commonly thought of as the force which lends weight to objects with mass. damage to joints and even the inability to continue our normal practice as a result of our misalignments. Three forces that affect your postures In this section. we start to experience fatigue. sitting (compression) and hanging (tension) are the most relevant to our yoga practice. overuse injuries. As gravity exerts its pull an object. we now explore the two fundamental principles of compression and tension. In order to understand how to achieve more efficient body positioning. the sun. While all three means of support can be found within the human body. the weight tends to squish or shorten the column. the practice that we undertook to lessen our discomfort becomes the source of new irritation. 1974). Gravity gives us our body weight. compression and tension. Some objects are better able to withstand compressive forces than others.cause the body to work harder than necessary.
Columns providing compressive support Typically. Those objects that are able to adequately withstand compressive forces are known as compression members. the weight flows through the columns and into the earth. and steel cables. and the building stays upright. (Morrissey. thick rubber bands. Tensile resistance is often used to stabilize a structure that has moved out of balance. As long as the columns do not buckle under the pressure. The ability to resist being stretched is referred to as tensile resistance. For example: the cables used to keep the leaning tower of Pisa from tipping over experience tensile resistance as the weight of the tower is 24 . When an object is no longer able to withstand tensile forces. 1). Examples of objects that are able to resist tensile forces are springs.Sears Tower than a column made of rubber. Those objects that possess the virtue of being able to withstand stretching are called tensile members. Tension Whenever something stretches or lengthens under force. Tension is defined as a force that acts to expand or lengthen the thing that it is acting on. compressive forces tend to be axial forces. the object is said to experience tensile forces. The overall weight of the roof is transferred to the earth through dozens of columns in the form of compression forces. Axial forces flow vertically downward through weight-supporting structures like columns or pillars. the object reacts by snapping. An everyday example of this can be seen in the columns that support the roof of the Acropolis in Athens.
this is very similar to the way that the pillars and cables of a suspension bridge support its weight.zorger.drawn toward the earth. One of the purposes of our muscles is to provide an appropriate degree of tension to move and hold our skeleton in good weight bearing position. The Balance of Tension and Compression Human bones are designed to support weight. Essentially you want to use your bones to support body weight. and your muscles to move the bones. the tower is able to stay upright as a result of this resistance. Tensile Resistance: A man hanging from a rope. In many ways. Compressive and Tensile Resistance: A Suspension Bridge 25 . This releases unnecessary tension from your musculature and will give you the strongest and most balanced foundation from which to explore your yoga practice. http://www. The goal for you as a yoga practitioner is to find a way to strike a balance between the tension and compression of the skeleton and the muscular structures. As long as the cables don’t snap.com B.
According to Mabel Todd.Three Weights In order for you to achieve a better balance between tension and compression in your postures. and therefore of strain. Creating a neutral balance in the three blocks shifts our body weight into the compressive members of the skeleton which automatically reduces the degree of tension the muscles need to exert in order to keep our body upright Head. we automatically reduce tension in our muscles. the major weights of the body must be balanced. When we balance the major weights of our body closer to center. Torso and Pelvis 26 . Torso 3. “In order to have a minimum of stress. but each part must be in balance with every other part within the system” (Todd. not only must the structure as a whole be in balanced relation with the outside forces. Head 2. For alignment purposes. we divide the human body into three major weights: 1. 56). Pelvis Balancing the weight of your head. torso and pelvis as close to a central axis is the key to creating less tension in your yoga poses. within the body.
Compressive axis 3. the weight would need to be countered either through another weight of similar size. To reduce uncomfortable tension in our poses. or by your own energy in order to keep the structure in equilibrium. balanced. consider what would happen if you put a heavy weight on the end of a teeter totter. However. we first draw the three weights of our body as close to our central axis as possible. These stabilizing lines help integrate us with our center and help create a sense of effortless ease in our postures. If you were to place the weight at the end one end of the board. for efficiency purposes. Balancing the Tensile and Compressive Axes Developing an awareness of the three major axes of the body can make it easier for you to balance the overall tension that you experience in your postures. I explain three stabilizing lines of energy that will help create a stable. Tensile axis Centering 27 . Central axis 2. I introduce descriptions of these 3 axes along with exercises that you can use to pinpoint the axes effectively engage them. As long as the weight is evenly balanced.To illustrate this. and naturally-aligned body position. The axes are 1. PranaVayu Core Basics: Stabilizing Lines In this section. and then use two stabilizing lines of energy to hold the blocks in place. if you did not wish to apply additional weight or force to the teeter totter. you can simply move the weight to the center of the structure. You might find that these exercises are useful in alignment focused workshops or classes. 56). it will maintain its horizontal positioning without any extra effort on your part (Todd.
and creates a sense of effortless ease is strength enhancing postures. the object will be balanced in static equilibrium. eliminates unnecessary muscle tension in flexibility enhancing poses. Understanding the location of this center gives us a central reference point to use as a guideline when we work toward establishing healthier movement patterns. In order to best understand the how to find this center. 28 .” (Colwell.On a general level. An object either suspended or supported from its center of mass is very stable as long as no outside forces act upon it. the term “centering” is often used in yoga classes to describe the mental act of re-establishing a connection to a deeper part of ourselves that isn’t swayed by thought. we need to first find and understand the center of mass. positioning the weight of our body around a theoretical center helps us to experience balance and equilibrium in our postures. When an object is supported at this point. The center of mass “is the point at which all of an object’s mass acts as if it were concentrated. Catherine 1997). distraction or emotion. On a physical level. Centering allows us to remain calm in the midst of challenge and helps us to reconnect to our sense of self when we are knocked off of balance. a semi-truck suspended from its center of gravity will hold perfectly still and will not spin or swing as long as it isn’t affected by external forces such as a wind or breeze.
However.The Center of Mass of a Dancer: Image from Newtonian Physics. The three planes are: 1. you can roughly approximate where this area would be by imagining that we could divide the body into three planes. For example: If you want to determine the location of the center of mass of a broom handle. The coronal (or frontal) plane divides the body into dorsal and ventral (back and front) portions 2. It cuts the body into two halves of equal proportion (assuming bilateral symmetry). try to balance the handle on the pad of your index and middle finger at the center of mass. Finding your center of mass To find the center of mass in a human body is a little more complicated. The median plane which is the sagittal plane running through the midline. Sometimes even seemingly minor changes can effect the center of mass. The point at which these three points would bisect will roughly correspond to the body’s center of mass. by Benjamin Crowell. the center of mass rests directly under the belly button near the second lumbar vertebrae. 3. To account for this. all you need to do is to lay it on a table with your index fingers positioned on either end. The center of mass can shift positions due to a variety of 29 . if the handle still has its broom attached. women often carry their center of mass lower than men. Slide your fingers together until they meet in the middle. Next. If you have located the point. However. For most people. Variations on body type and weight distribution will mean that the center of mass is slightly different for every person. The space at which your fingers meet is the object’s center of mass. The transverse (or horizontal) plane divides the body into cranial and caudal (top and bottom) portions. However. the center of mass will be nearer the heavier end. and the handle is equally weighted throughout. you will be able to balance it horizontally on your fingers. you may need to adjust by sliding your finger closer to the brush end of the handle. Creative Commons There are a number of ways to find an object’s center of mass.
The Center of Mass Moves as the Body Bends 1. such as if more weight is added to the body or even the heart beating as it dilates and constricts as it pumps our blood supply. The Central Axis is an imaginary vertical line of energy that flows through the center of mass in the upright standing position. The center of mass can even move outside of an object under certain circumstances. the center of mass actually moves outside of the body as the body shifts position. As you enter deep standing backbends or side-bends. drawing our attention inward to our center and allowing us to radiate 30 . the center of mass will shift away from the geometric center of the pole as it wobbles back and forth. The Central Axis Since understanding how to stack the weight of the body closer to the center of mass can be difficult as we shift into different postures. The Central Axis is much like a beacon of light in the middle of a thick fog. threading like a sewing needle through the rib-cage and exiting through the middle of the pelvic floor. It acts as a central reference point that shows us where to shift our focus. This happens in our yoga practice as well. if you attempt to balance a baseball bat on your palm. For example. and you will have a good idea of where the central axis lies. we expand our definition of center to encompass an imaginary vertical line of energy referred to as the Central Axis.factors. Imagine a plumb line hanging from the center of the skull.
Standing. Finding Your Central Axis Use the following exercise to find your central axis: 1. Creating a solid mental map of the central axis takes a lot of the guesswork out of where the body should be positioned as we practice. The Central Axis: http://www. sideways and kneeling postural patterns can all be informed and brought into more efficient alignment by positioning the body around the central axis that we discovered in the vertical position.ca/pic1posturologie-francaislarge.posturepro.gif Once we isolate the position of the Central Axis from an upright vertical position. Have your partner come to a standing posture with the inner edges of their feet hip distance apart.gracefully outward from a sense of inner connectedness and strength in our core. we can carry the image of its location into the rest of our practice. 31 . using it as a frame of reference for the large variety of yoga poses that we practice. supine. The Central Axis gives us a tangible landmark around which to position our body as we flow through our postures.
adding muscular tension by shifting the pelvis out of neutral position and pulling “up” on the lower back muscles simply serves to unseat the load from the spine and creates unnecessary muscular tension in the process (Bernard. Once this point is located. NB: When thinking of the Central Axis. Approximate the point that is directly centered between the right and left side of the body and place the tip of your index finger at that point. it may or may not encounter sections of the spinal column as the spine curves upward but it should not be considered to actually be the spinal column even if the spine and axis intersect in many places. the Central Axis can be considered to be similar to a laser beam directed from the middle of the skull downward through the pelvic floor. 2. Rather. Place your other index finger on same spot at the back of the body. manubrium and at the third eye center. Have your partner think inward to the point your fingers would meet if they could actually touch. The Compressive Axis The human spinal column is clearly designed to support body weight as a compressive member due to its wide base of support. The beam simply flows through any bony junctures that it might encounter. This line that flows vertically through the body’s center of gravity in the standing position is the central axis. Start below the belly button (near the center of gravity). Since the spinal column serves so well as a compressive member. overall length. it is important to recognize that it is an “imaginary” line of energy. 32 . Help your partner find the approximate location of their central axis by pressing one finger into the front and another into the back of the body. solar plexus. 126). heart. Since the central axis doesn’t consist of any bony masses. As the central axis moves through the body. 3. we can’t actually consider it to be a supportive structure. shock absorbing disks and its flowing distribution of curves over a relatively long distance.2. repeat at the navel.
allow each vertebra to sink onto the one below. Once you have worked all the way down to the tailbone. Maintain the length of your central axis while you do this. As they do so. try the following exercise: 1. Increasing muscular tension in the abdominal muscles of the front body while allowing the compressive forces in the back of the body to channel through the spine will 33 6. . Imagine the vertebrae getting heavy and sinking downward onto the one below it. the only other choice for support lies in muscular tension. cross legged position 2. 4. Twist to the right.The Compressive Axis of the Spine Flows Down Allowing the spinal column to channel the weight of your upper body to the pelvis has the added benefit of lengthening the tail-bone downward while releasing tension from the back. 3. Have your partner continue to walk his/her fingers down your spine. you will find that you can twist deeper than before. you can imagine stacking your vertebrae on top of one another like a stack of building blocks. Come to a seated. To do this. The Tensile Axis Since the sternum is not attached to the pelvis by any type of bony connection. Have a partner place his/her finger on your seventh cervical vertebrae. and we cannot support the front of the body by bracing. 3. 5. have your partner help you twist deeper by placing their hands on your shoulders and rotating you to the right. If you don’t create muscular tension by lifting your ribs as you twist. To experience this.
drop your hands to the sides. Place your fingers on muscles of your low-belly on either side of the Linea Alba. torso and pelvis into our skeletal structure by holding their weight as close to the central axis as possible.help hold the weight of the pelvis and ribs closer to center. Draw those muscles inward and upward toward the Linea Alba without lifting the front rim of the ribcage. we throw the weights of our body out of equilibrium and create unnecessary muscular tension in the process. 5. Repeat for the muscles just above the navel and just below the ribs. 135) To find the tensile axis 1. torso and pelvis horizontally and vertically as close to our center as possible. Come to a standing position 2. and practice maintaining a gentle degree of tension in the belly muscles much like a half clenched fist. we first balance the weight of the head. 4. Overall this act of flowing up the front and down the back without displacing the balanced position of the ribcage keeps everything in balance and results in general equilibrium in the skeletal structure as a whole. the vertical midline that bisects your abdominal muscles. lengthen the spine and relax the muscles of the back (Matt. 34 . We refer to this as “flowing up the front and down the back”. 4. Once you’ve finished. Putting it All Together: The Bicycle Chain The goal in any of our postures is to shift the major weight of the head. 3. To avoid this type of imbalance in our yoga poses. If we disrupt this balance by lifting too much on one side of the body (as is often done in the lifted chest position of the military posture). Imagine that your ribs were like a lamp shade and balance the base of the shade around the post of your central axis. We then activate our stabilizing lines by allowing the compressive forces of our body weight to flow down the back while increasing the tensile resistance of the front body in order to keep the three weights in place.
Once you have identified what the basic flow feels like. torso and pelvis downward into the legs. Doing this will help direct your focus the tensile and compressive axes. imagine that your body weight could flow into the spinal column just like water running down a drain-pipe. and help you to balance your body’s weight close to center through the course of your practice. 4. feel the current extending up the front of the neck. The flow of the tensile and compressive axes is very similar to the motion of a bicycle chain – the tensile axis flowing up the front. Next. To experience this: 1. Finally. 2. broaden and opening the chest muscles without lifting the ribs. Principle Cues for Alignment 35 . practice coordinating it to your breath by flowing up the front with your inhales. Allow the current to flow up the front of the sternum.If you wish to experience less muscular tension in the muscles of your back body. and one hand at your lower back on the sacrum. feel the tension melting from your back muscles as the spine begins to channel the weight of the head. the tensile and compressive axes should be held as parallel and close to the central axis as possible. Place one hand at the top of the sternum between your collarbones. As the current begins to flow down the spinal column. and down the back on your exhales. Allow your belly muscles to rise gently up and in and imagine the current of energy created by the lift flowing upward toward your hand without lifting the front edge of your ribcage. 3. and the compressive axis flowing down the back. Imagine the tension generated by the lifting of the belly muscles holding the pelvis in place. drawing the hyoid bone upward and inward to the body balancing the skull upon the spine.
18): 1. 1) Create a broad level base for support If the base of support of a structure is broad and the object rests on a level surface. soften. Set the foundation 2. Hold your weight as close to the base as possible. As you describe alignment during class. These cues are “set the foundation. there are easy cues that will help remind your students of the basics. center. We encounter this any time we try to set up a camera on a tripod base. 2. Equally distribute your weight around and as close to the Central Axis as possible. Stabilizing the base of the posture first eliminates wasted effort and makes it easier to work with the posture as a whole. 3. Create a broad level base for support. 1. you 36 .Establish the Foundation Any attempt to stabilize your postures must always begin by establishing a firm foundation. Center 4. then the object will be very stable. a sudden bump or even a strong breeze can tip the tripod over. If the legs of the tripod are too narrow. If the foundation of a posture isn’t stable. However.Using the following principles to guide your alignment will help you release tension lessen injuries and achieve instantaneous changes in range of motion. and radiate”. no amount of work we do with the rest of the posture will be as effective as it could be. 4. potentially destroying all of your photos in the process. Radiate Step one . Center the line of gravity in your base. if you simply widen the base of support by spreading the camera legs apart. A strong foundation can be created by applying the following four fundamental principles (Sweigard. Soften 3.
the weight transfer is directed to the skeletal structure and the process is very efficient. However. it is very important to “hug” into center by maintaining a constant awareness of the central axis. 37 . the muscles of the back body will be forced to work harder in order to keep the body from tipping over due to the misalignment. Imagine doing the split posture on a really sweaty hard wood floor! Standing with the feet too wide apart can sometimes disrupt balance. Continually refocusing our awareness on this plum line enables us to shift the weight of the head ribs and pelvis closer to center by flowing up the front and down the back. 2) Equally distribute our weight around and as close to the center as possible. Simply shifting the hands so that the arms form a ninety degree angle with the elbows resting directly over the wrists widens the base of support and immediately stabilized the balance. When we practice yoga. However. The weight of our body accumulates as it moves from the skull downward to the earth. or standing with a the buttocks lifted in the classic Donald Duck posture. As long as we position our body weight as close to your center as possible. 3) Center the line of gravity in your base. this only holds true if there is enough friction between the base and the earth to keep the base from slipping apart. The load of the upper body flows to the pelvis via the spinal column and from there out through the feet and into the floor. the narrow base of support makes the posture feel rickety and imbalanced. if the weight of any of these centers is displaced by things like puffing up the chest.will ensure that the camera is able to stay upright unless forcefully moved by a gale force wind or some other external force. if our hands rest too close together or too near the head. We experience this in postures like the tripod headstand as well.
Loading the luggage inside of the van will transfer weight downward into its base and will make the whole vehicle much more stable. Hold your weight as close to the base as possible. leaning too far backward can place uncomfortable tension on the knee of the rear leg and forces the deep muscles of the torso to work harder as they engage to keep the body upright. Standing in a neutral position. For optimal stability. If you hold this position and neither lean too far forward nor too far backward. Shifting the weight of the torso forward toward the standing leg will force the quadriceps muscles to work harder than necessary. your posture will be very stable and you will be able to relax into the pose. For example: Consider warrior II. the Central Axis should fall in the middle of your base. If you try to drive along a steeply inclined hill.A stable foundation is of the utmost importance in a yoga practice. 38 . Keeping the weight of your body as low as possible will make your postures feel more stable. Similarly. the body has no choice but to react by increasing muscular tension. the weight on top of the roof can actually tip the automobile over. 4.000 pounds of luggage on the top of its roof. If this balance is disrupted by leaning either too far forward or too far backward. and center halfway between your feet. with the central axis centered in the base eliminates this problem. To illustrate: Imagine driving a van carrying 1. If you stack the tips of our shoulder-blades directly over the Seitz-bones the line of gravity will flow through the middle of the pelvis directly into the floor. These performers are able to balance a bicycle on a wire by using the weight of the lower performer to lower their center of gravity.
Step Two . However. Adding tension on top of tension in a yoga pose rarely yields pleasant consequences.000 pound lead ball chained to the ankle of your standing leg. To do this in any balance. this simple mental shift can have a very stabilizing effect on your pose. we can mentally shift the center of mass downward into the earth to stabilize the pose. Try this in postures like the dancer’s pose. Using your powers of visualization. and center the line of gravity in your base. pulling your body weight downward and stabilizing the pose.Sometimes it is possible to shift your center of mass downward by bending one or both knees. center your body weight as close to the central axis as possible. If you try to shift the alignment of your body when the muscles are already under intense strain. some postures require a straight legged foundation. As long as you have established a stable foundation. imagine that the ball could sink into the earth. this will “ground” the posture and make it feel very stable. If you are able to visualize clearly.Soften Just as it would be unrealistic to expect to be able to add weight to a rope that is on the verge of snapping. visualize a 1. tree pose and half moon to stabilize your posture. we cannot bend the standing leg without disrupting the integrity of the posture. 39 . it would be unrealistic to expect your muscles to hold if put under intense strain. In postures like the dancer’s pose. follow these steps: · · · Enter the posture Position the three weights as close to center as possible. In such circumstances. muscle pulls or injuries are likely to result. This process of mentally shifting your body weight is not as hard as it might seem. Next.
shifting the pelvis or repositioning the affected area in any way that allows the affected muscles to relax. we first soften the outer shell of the body by following these steps: 1. 2. Step Four: Radiate Holding our body weight closer to the central axis releases a good deal of unnecessary tension from our muscles. 2. Scan the body for specific points of tension and resistance. In order to do this. Engage the stabilizing lines by flowing up the front and down the back. we immediately soften the tension by bending the knees. torso and pelvis as close to the central axis as possible. Position the head. when we first enter a posture.For that reason. Softening is a dynamic process of relaxing and letting go based on the sensory input that we gain from observing and feeling tension in the body. and position the weight of the head. 3. Refine the alignment specific points by using action lines described in section 5 below. Pause and become still. we use our musculature to draw our arms and legs deeper into their sockets. This creates a sort of “plugging in” sensation as we draw everything from the periphery deeper into our center body. 3. There are three steps to centering the body. Softening before we center reduces much of the effort necessary to reposition and helps us to practice with less force or strain. Once specific points of tension are identified. 1. Step Three: Center Once we have softened the body. we are able to release areas that might otherwise strain under subsequent attempts to realign. 40 . By identifying specific points of tension before we reposition. ribs and pelvis as close to the central axis as possible. it is easier to reposition closer to center.
if we don’t balance this inward flowing energy by redirecting energy outward. The 9 Action Lines: Refining Our Alignment The nine energetic action lines that are central to the PranaVayu Core System of Alignment are the ankle line. This is done by isometrically stretching outward from our center of gravity to the crown of the head. 5. the femur line. 1. actions and imagery associated with engaging each line of energy. The following nine lines can be used to discover more comfortable versions of your postures and to develop greater strength and flexibility in your practice. In this section. I also describe the specific alignment cues. This expansion from our center to our periphery feels like solar waves extending outward from the core of the sun. Action lines are used to refine our postural alignment and positioning once we’ve softened and centered. With each breath. we actively imagine lengthening outward from the sense of centering we have created. This outflow of energy allows us to experience the full expansiveness of each posture that is rooted from the very center of our being. the sacral line. The Ankle Line 41 . the pelvic/thoracic line. They are particularly useful when we practice yoga because they give us a greater degree of control over individual sections of our body. the abdominal line.However. I describe each action line and provide pictorial representations of each line. energy radiates from our core releasing any sense of compression in our joints. the shoulder line. the centering of our skeletal structure can lead to a sense of jamming in our joints. the rib line. the sternum line. To avoid any sense of compression or shortening. and the neck line. from the center of gravity outward through the legs and feet and from the center of the heart to the fingertips.
Imagery To imagine what it is like to center your feet and ankles. reduce wear and tear on the knees. 42 . 3. imagine standing on a sandy beach with the lines connecting your second toe and Achilles tendon parallel. Alignment from Tadasana Location: The ankle line extends from the second toe to the Achilles tendon of either foot. Lift your toes and spread them apart. Ground down the base of the big toe and the base of the little toe. follow these three steps: 1. Establishing a firm foundation by centering the foot and ankle joint can improve balance. create openness in the hips and make it easier to align the body as a whole. Position the foot in a neutral position: Turn your heels slightly outward until their second toe is facing forward and in alignment with the Achilles tendon.The foot and ankle joint support the weight of the entire body. To engage this line from a standing position. Softly spread the toes outward on the earth and allow your weight to pour through the center of the heel to the earth. Spread your toes apart and rebalance your weight until you are able to leave even indentations under all four corners of the feet. 2.
The application of this line can help you avoid hyperextension in standing poses. Inwardly rotate the femur by bringing your feet to a neutral (second toe forward) position. This action will result in a slight scooping of the Seitz bone on the same side. 2. Alignment Location: The femur line extends from the center of the knee to the hip joint. improve your forward folding range of motion in hip and hamstring openers and help to reduce lower back tension in postures like the bridge or the camel. pectineus and psoas). softens the groin and creates a broadening sensation in the back body. To position this line from a standing position. Imagine that you could draw the femur deeper into its socket by drawing muscular energy from the inner knee upward to the Seitz bone of the same leg. Engaging the adductor muscles in particular helps to promote control of the thigh closer to the pelvis. Pull the leg bone further into the 43 . The Femur Line Balancing the femur in the hip-socket is accomplished by engaging the muscles that control the movement of the thigh (adductors. follow these three steps: 1.2. This will create a broadening sensation in the backs of the legs and help to create a softer sensation in the groin.
if leg is bent). As the leg plugs in to the socket. To avoid this problem. Drawing the femur deeper into its socket creates a “plugging in” type of action that is very similar to the motion created when you plug your lap-top into an electrical outlet.body by drawing energy from the middle of the knee to the hip crease. Use this step to relieve any sense of jamming in the hip socket. 2. simultaneously extend outward through the ball of your foot (or knee. we think of the torso and pelvis as being one connected unit. increases the tone of the abdomen and creates a balanced relation between the torso and pelvis. 3. This simple action releases tension from the back muscles. imbalances in either one of these structures will lead to imbalances in the other. The outward flowing of the leg bone feels similar to spraying water out of a garden hose. 3. Feel as though you were sucking your leg into your body. Imagine that your legs were hollow tubes and spray water out your toes. Pelvic/Thoracic Line Since the pelvis and thorax are connected by the lumbar spine and the abdominal muscles. Imagery 1. Alignment 44 . We engage the pelvic/thoracic line by shortening the space between the mid-front of the pelvis and the twelfth thoracic vertebrae.
(Sweigard. Imagine that your pelvic bowl were the rim of an ice-cream cone. Typically the frontal edge of the cone tips downward which puts pressure on the abdominal muscles. 4.Location: The pelvic thoracic line extends from the lower two sacral vertebrae to the 12th thoracic vertebrae To engage this line from tadasana: We shorten the space between these two points in three steps 1. Imagine that the space between your zipper and two bottom ribs were like an open clamshell. 2. To balance the pelvis. Lengthen axially upward from the core of the pelvis to the crown of the head without lifting the front of the ribs. Imagine that there were a strap connecting your belt-buckle and your twelfth thoracic vertebrae together. Balance the pelvis on the femoral heads by bending the knees slightly and engaging the femur line to straighten the legs again. Shorten the strap until both the front and back of the pelvis and ribs are balanced around the central axis. 3. Close the clamshell ¼ of the way or until the pelvis and ribs balance vertically and horizontally as close to the axis as possible. Imagine a cherry dropping down from the level of the 12th rib to center in the middle of the ice-cream. Imagery 1. Sacral Line 45 . imagine tipping the front of the cone upward to a level position to allow the ice-cream to fall back into the rim. 246) 2.
As you do this. you may feel tension softening in the lower back. Broaden and soften the muscles by sliding your thumbs toward the outside of the pelvis and your fingers around to the front of the waist. This line of energy broadens the back of the pelvis and buttocks and helps to release muscular tension in the back body. 2. Imagine that two curtains were meeting in the center of the sacrum. 3. 2. This is accomplished by feeling as though we could drop the sacrum deeper into the pelvis. Imagine that you had pant-pockets placed on either side of your sacrum. Allow any shifts in the pelvis to be passive in nature. Mentally slide the curtains around to the front of your body to create a broadening sensation in the low back. This line is also very useful when we need to rotate our hips in one direction or the other. Imagery 1. Opening the sacral line is like opening a shower curtain. Engaging the sacral line from tadasana: 1. Place your thumbs on either side of the mid-line of the sacrum and place your fingers on the sides of your waist. we engage the sacral line by imagining that we could slide the sacrum deeper into the pelvis. In the vertical position. Imagine that the pant pockets could slide around to the front of your body. this causes the sitting bones to flow downward and softens tension in the lower back. Extend axially upward through your center. Imagine that the sacrum could drop deeper into the pelvis. 46 . Alignment In the vertical position.The sacral line lengthens the tailbone downward and creates a broadening sensation in the back of the pelvis.
Center your pelvis. Extend axially upward from the core of the pelvis to the crown of the head. follow these three steps: 1. 2. Similar to a soft form of Uddiyana Bandha. Alignment Location: The abdominal line extends upward from the pubic symphysis to the solar plexus. torso and skull as close to center as possible to free tension from the back body. The Abdominal Line This line aids other lines of movement in the torso by promoting better pelvic positioning.5. Draw your belly muscles upward and inward to reinforce the action of the tensile axis. 3. To align this line from tadasana. Imagery 47 . this line draws the front of the pelvis gently up by drawing the abdominal muscles upward and inward toward the center.
To engage the rib-line line. Applying this line to your practice will help counteract the tendency to create unnecessary tension in the back by lifting the chest upward and holding the shoulders rigidly back. the action will help to create more flexibility in the ribcage and will not restrict the breath. Rib Line The rib line helps to draw the ribs to a more neutral position in relation the Central Axis. It is a horizontal line that moves from the outer ribs to their articulations in the spine. Find a neutral placement for your ribcage.Engaging the abdominal line is very similar to drawing the zipper on a tight fitting sweater up to the base of your ribs. 6. Alignment Location: The rib line is located on the back of the ribs. 48 . we level the base of the rib-cage with the floor and imagine that we could draw the ribs deeper into their articulations. If we do this without holding the ribs rigidly “in”. imagine that your ribs were a lampshade. To align from tadasana: 1. Balance the bottom rim of the shade around your central axis. To do this.
As you breathe all the way out. feel the heads of your ribs sliding deeper into their articulations in the spine like fingers sliding into a glove. Imagery Imagine that your individual ribs were like the hoops on a wine barrel. 246). allow your breath to swell outward as though your ribs were an expanding balloon (Sweigard. 7. Sternum Line The sternum line helps to reinforce the upward flowing of the tensile axis. brings tone to the muscles of the chest and helps the shoulder blades to flow down. Extend axially upward through the crown of the head. purse your lips and send your breath out in a long slender stream. Once the ribs have been balanced. 2.Inhale fully. 3. Alignment 49 . Imagine that the hoops could gradually shrink inward toward the center until the rib cage feels balanced on your axis.
Since consciously squeezing the shoulders can increase shoulder tension and displace the balance between pelvis and ribs. Use the following three steps to align your sternum from Tadasana: 1. 3.Position: The sternum line flows vertically upward from the base to the top of the sternum. 8. The action of the sternum line is much like a slide ruler. the shoulder blades are not retracted to engage this line. Imagine that it could float under the waters of your central axis toward the chin. Imagine that the sternum could flow over the central axis toward the ceiling. Imagery 1. Extend axially upward from the core of the pelvis to the crown of the head. Without lifting your ribs. the sternum line is like a submarine. Shoulder Line The shoulder line releases tension from the neck muscles by centering the arm bones in their sockets and allowing the shoulder blades to flow downward on the back. When appropriately engaged by centering the arm-bones in their sockets and by 50 . From a horizontal position. Balance your ribs around the central axis 2. slide your sternum upward toward the chin. 2.
9. Alignment: Location: She shoulder line is a downward flowing line of energy that draws the tips of the shoulderblades downward toward the Seitz bones. this line creates broadness in the chest. softness in the collarbones and a more comfortable position in the shoulders themselves. Imagine that your outer arms were like melting candle wax. Slide them deeper into your armpits. Relax your shoulder muscles as much as possible in order to scan for points of tension.allowing the shoulder blades to flow down the back. but no attempt should be made to draw them further back forcefully. drawing the arms deeper into their sockets until the armpits begin to hollow. Imagine that your shoulder blades were like snow sliding down a metal roof. Position your arms passively near the sides of the body. Center: Gently draw energy from the thumbs to the inner armpits. Skull Line 51 . Maintain the sense of centering the arm bone in your armpit and allow the outer arm to be heavy while sliding the shoulders down the back. 3. 2. Melt them downward toward the earth 3. 2. Note that this action will draw the head of the armbone back and slightly retract the scapulae. Imagine that your arms were like pool cues. Imagery 1. To align the shoulders from tadasana: 1.
Lengthen upward and inward from the top of the sternum toward the middle of the skull. tilt the hyoid bone upward and inward and level your face with the wall in front of you. To align the skull from tadasana: 1. 247) 2. Imagery 1.The skull line flows upward from the top of the sternum to the top of the spine. 2. feel as though you were creating a smiley face in your throat. Slide it up both side of the neck to a horizontal position. Relax the muscles of the neck. To balance the skull. As the hyoid bone moves upward and inward. 52 . can increase sitting and standing height and makes it easier to balance the head on the spinal column itself. 3. (Sweigard. Maintain an awareness of the upward flowing of energy of the neckline balancing out the downward pull of gravitational forces. Alignment Location: The skull line is a diagonally flowing line of energy that flows upward from the top of the sternum to the top of the spine. Take awareness to the top of the sternum. Imagine that the first rib at the top of the ribcage were a bracelet. This diagonal line of energy helps to increase the length of the spine.
Conclusion By understanding the ways in which the muscles and bones of the human body resist the force of gravity. between acting and surrender that helps us to create a dynamic contrast between the sun and moon that will allow us to practice happier. When we use our bones to support our body’s weight we invariably experience less tension in our musculature as the weight that was previously supported by muscular tension flows into our bones in the form of compression force. and by refining our postures through the nine energetic action lines. centering and radiating in our postures.3. By actively softening. To balance the head on the spine. Watch it moving over the top of the head to reach the level of the eyebrows” (Sweigard. Ultimately it is this balance between strength and flexibility. 248). “Visualize a skull cap on the back of the head. The PranaVayu Core System of Alignment does just this. we are able to make better informed postural decisions that allow us to use the mechanical structure of the body to our fullest advantage. or a balance of softness and firmness in our yoga postures. aiming to maximize human’s movement potential through the balancing of compression and tension. General Application of the Nine Lines of Energy What are the four simple steps that we following when positioning any yoga pose? · · · · Set the foundation Soften Center Radiate What does it mean to set the foundation? 53 . healthier and more productive postures for the rest of our lives. centering the body. we are able to accomplish sthira sukam asanam.
b. How do we soften? After first setting the foundation of a pose we pause at the first edge and soften the outer shell of the body by following these steps: • Pause and become still. in a seated forward fold. we immediately soften the tension by relaxing. or if necessary by repositioning the affected area in any way that will allow the affected muscles to relax.To set the foundation. Slide the flesh of the buttocks backward d. • Scan the body for specific points of tension and resistance. we would do the following a. What do we need to do to center? 54 . Lengthen the spine e. • Once specific points of tension are identified. Enter the general form of the posture Make sure that the legs are internally rotated c. we enter the basic form of the pose • For example. muscle pulls or injuries are likely to result. • If you try to shift the alignment of your body when the muscles are already under intense strain. Softly fold into the posture until we experience a first edge Why do we soften? Adding tension on top of tension in a yoga pose rarely yields pleasant consequences.
· This must be done without losing our sense of having “plugged in” to center This is done by stretching by stretching outward from the following points: · From the core of the pelvis of to the crown of the head. What does it mean to radiate? If we don’t balance this inward flowing energy by redirecting energy outward. the centering of our skeletal structure can lead to a sense of jamming in our joints. · Using these three or four important lines will make it easier to position all six ranges of motion very quickly and efficiently. we have isolated three or four lines that will help you plug in very quickly. · To avoid any sense of compression or shortening. we actively imagine lengthening outward from the sense of centering we have created.Once we have softened the body. we can then refine our alignment and deepen our range of motion by using the selected action lines to hold our weight closer to center. · From the core of the pelvis outward through the legs and feet · From the center of the heart to the fingertips Principles of Forward Folds Def: What is a forward fold? 55 . · Because engaging all nine lines in a yoga pose is unnecessarily complicated. · The first part of the centering phase typically begins by “plugging in” the leg bones and the arm bones into their sockets and positioning the three weights as close to center as possible.
• Pelvic Thoracic a. Set the foundation of the pose. What is beneficial about forward folding? • According to Yoga Journal. Helps to tilt pelvis forward. and hamstring opening • Improves digestion • Can help relieve the symptoms of menstrual discomfort • Soothes headache and anxiety and reduces fatigue What lines of energy should I use to quickly align a forward fold? • First. To deepen. a. Begins gentle rounding of the spine • Rib 56 . lengthen axially. and then settle into the posture.• A forward fold is any posture that requires folding forward from the hip joint. some of the benefits of forward folding can include: • Relief for stress and mild depression • Spine. shoulder. Center the following four lines: • Femur Line a. set the foundation and soften.
Prop the pelvis up on blankets to help the forward tilt of the pelvis. Forward fold FAQ: What types of injuries can result from forward folding without proper alignment? • You can rupture a spinal disk • The spinal disks are like jelly donuts that rest between the vertebrae. the intervertebral disks shift toward the back of the body.a. For more advanced students focus on the following: 57 . Radiate a. a. Reinforces the action of hugging the ribs into the central axis. focus on a long back. What Principles should I use for students with tight hamstrings when forward folding? • For the beginning student with tight hamstrings. • This can put pressure on the nerves in the spine and lead to pain and injury. extend axially from the core of the pelvis to the crown of the head. Narrows the width of the ribs and deepens the fold • Skull a. • When the spinal column is rounded. To regain any length that was lost. What causes the spine to round in a forward fold? • Tight hamstrings make it difficult for the top of the pelvis to tip forward and often cause the spine to round in a forward fold.
keeping the back straight. teach them how to deepen by consciously rounding the spine. Why does the spine round in a forward fold? Understanding how the skeleton shifts in a forward fold will help you understand why we allow a conscious rounding of the spine for more flexible students. flowing “down”. b. As you ground your sitting bones into the earth. the sacrum counter-nutates a. 58 . Counternutation is the passive movement of the S1 vertebrae that happens when you perform flexion of your lumbar spine. the pelvis will hit the thighs and stop tilting before the chest reaches the thighs. I’ve been told not to round the spine in forward folds. Why do we do it differently in PranaVayu Yoga? We forward fold differently because it is anatomically impossible to keep the back perfectly straight when you go all the way down. The pelvis can’t tip forward enough to make this happen. • When we forward fold. The only way to get the chest down the rest of the way is to round the back. If the student is able to touch their two bottom ribs to the front of the thighs. This gentle rounding continues all the way up the spine. When counternutation occurs. the tailbone feels as though it were c. a. you will feel the sensation of your lower back very gently rounding (no more than a lense from a pair of sunglasses) d. • If a superflexible person moves into the pose by tilting forward only from the pelvis. b.a.
• Have these students sit on blankets.k.k. this can lead this area can tear. it is o.What happens if I don’t allow the sacrum to counter-nutatate in a forward fold? • You may experience more tension in the hamstring origin (near the sitting bones • Over time. Accentuating counter-nutation can make this worse. Principles of Backbending: Def: What is a backbend? • A backbend is any posture that extends the spinal column is extended a. Direct them to ground down through the sitting bones and lengthen axially from pelvis to crown. What is beneficial about backward bending? 59 . the wheel and the bow. Examples include the Warrior 1. How do I know when it’s o. • This occurs when the hamstrings are so tight that the top of the pelvis will not tip forward. to round the spine. to allow my students to consciously round the spine in a forward fold? • If the bottom rim of the ribs touches the thighs. Should beginning students counternutate as well? Beginning students and those with tight hamstrings should mainly focus on axial extension • Students with tight hamstrings often round the back too much.
Pay attention to the point where this begins to happen and allow the motion to take place. Radiate *During this stage. and spine • Stimulates the thyroid and pituitary • Increases energy and counteracts depression How do I use the nine lines of energy to align a backbend? · Soften – come into the general form of the pose · Center the following lines: * Please note . and gently press the middle of your skull backward without lifting the chin. and create more broadness in the chest. buttocks. the pelvis will begin to nutate. a backward bend can include the following benefits: • Stretches the chest and opens the lungs • Strengthens the arms and wrists. c. Femur – Draws thighs together. and draws the pelvis toward a neutral position b. Pay attention as you go up to the exact point where the lumbar spine begins to bend and your sacrum begins to nutate. Allow this to happen. Shoulder – This can alternatively protect the shoulders. · Press into the pose. Skull – Level your face with the wall or the ceiling. This will cause your coccyx to goes down in relationship to your S1 vertebrae as you lift. abdomen. Allow nutation to take place by leading with the s1 vertebrae · Deepen the backbend by radiating energy from your sternum to your chin 60 .In the first part of coming up into a backbend you will be keeping your pelvis in counternutation to lengthen the lower back a. · Radiate energy from the core of the pelvis out through the knees and begin to bend deeper into the pose.According to Yoga Journal. legs.
a. 61 . why do so many yoga teachers as us to do it? The reason for this is that backbends pace a lot of pressure on the lumbar region of the spine. If tucking the tailbone can lead to lower back pain. Backbend FAQ: What types of injuries contraindicate a backbend? · · · · · Back injury Diarrhea Headache Heart problems High or low blood pressure What types of injury are the most likely to occur if a backbend is misaligned? • Lower Back Pain • Headache What causes lower back pain or headache in a backward bend? • Concentrating all of the backbend in the cervical and lumbar spine • Tucking the tail Why does tucking the tail create lower back pain? Tucking the tail in a backward bend inhibits the natural shifting of the pelvis that occurs when we bend backward · Tucking also tightens the gluteus muscles · This can strain the SI joint in the lower back. Do this by sliding your sternum line over the heart to deepen the backbend.
or otherwise straining or jamming your low back 62 . the first sacral vertebrae presses passively forward toward the front of the body. Swing back and forth with the legs · The sacrum which is positioned between the hip bones. The sacrum twists slightly from side to side as it mediates between the movements of the hips. Nutation is a tipping or nodding forward of the top of the sacrum b. · The sacrum also has another important action called nutation a. Sacral nutation in spine-bending poses can stabilize the sacrum within the pelvic bones a. In nutation. a. the pelvis should be brought to c. this instruction does not apply to deeper backbends. How does the pelvis move in backbends? · Two hip bones a.· To protect against pinching in this region. and the top of the pelvis tips forward This motion is important for backbending. c. Using it can also create pain in the lumbar region too in postures like the bridge or the wheel. During the first portion of a backbend. many teaches give cues to scoop or tuck the tailbone. Unfortunately. Counternutating or tucking the tail when backbend resists the natural motions of the pelvis and can put you at risk for pinching the tissues within the SI joints. This is a good instruction at first a more neutral position with a slight scoop. b. forcing the SI joints into misalignment. a.
Helps to balance the pelvis. To deepen a side bend. apply the following three steps: Set the foundation and soften • Enter the general form of the pose and relax Center . · Examples of side bends include the half moon pose and the reversed warrior What are the benefits of side bending? • Side bends loosen the spine • Help to release tension from the back • Can deepen spinal twists.* Key point: Many students are taught to lift from the tailbone in this pose.use the following action lines to deepen • Femur a. creates a stable foundation · Pelvic Thoracic b. Principles of side bending What is a side bending posture? · We define a side bending as a posture that bends the spine to the right or to the left. but that is kinesiologically illogical. Balances the rib cage 63 . If you want to find comfortable backbend. Draws the ribs and pelvis into position · Rib a. Nutation and backbending go together as natural movements in your body. you need to nutate as you lift the last half of the pose.
you’ll get more range of motion. b. your ribcage will naturally rotate toward the left. it will create torque in the thoracic spine and make the side bend more difficult.b. If you think in toward center when side bending. What are the benefits of twists? • Release tension from the back • Stimulate inner organs • Preserve ability to rotate spine How do I use the nine lines of energy to help deepen a twist? 64 . Imagine slide the ribs over and under the heart to deepen. If you interfere with this motion. · Allow the ribcage to rotate when side bending a. Radiate · From the core of the pelvis out through the feet · From the core of the pelvis out through the crown Side Bending FAQ What types of things should I note when side bending? · Bend from the skeleton rather than your periphery a. Examples include the triangle pose and prayer twist. Principles of twists What is a spinal twist? A spinal twist is defined as any posture that rotates the spine. In a sideways bend to the right.
deepen by twisting your left belly muscles into the right. Twisting FAQ: What types of things should I note when twisting? • Begin the twist from the pelvis.After you set the general foundation and enter a soft form of the twist use the following lines to center: ·Sacral line a. Draw your belly muscles strongly upward and inward b. Radiate • Axially upward from the base of the pelvis through the crown. Draw the front of the pelvis up and roll the tail gently under · The abdominal line a. What happens if I anchor the pelvis before twisting? 65 . a. If you are twisting to the right. Channel weight into spine by dropping sacrum into pelvis · Pelvic thoracic line a. Use this line to shift the pelvis out of neutral (draw the sitting bone of the side you’re twisting toward backward. Rigidly locking the pelvis into position can jam the sacroiliac joint. b.
Twist from the abdomen • To facilitate the maximum twist from the spinal column that will simultaneously protect the SI joint. he will in effect be pulling his spine and sacroiliac joint into the twist while turning the pelvis back in the other direction • When the sacrum and ilia move in separate directions. What do I do with the three blocks when twisting? • Keep the three blocks aligned around the axis • If the ribs are displaced by lifting up in the front. imagine that your spinal twists come from the abdomen. How do I help my students avoid this? • To release torque in the lower back in a posture like marichyasana c. have them come out of the posture to make it easier to settle into safer alignment Teach from the base to the top · 66 . • Let your belly lead the twist and let the vertebral column follow. low back pain occurs. If they are at risk of injury due to poor alignment. General Tips for Teaching Alignment · Scan your student’s posture. maybe even as many as 6 inches ahead of the hip socket of the bent knee. Engage the rib line to balance around the central axis.• If your student begins the pose by anchoring the pelvis before twisting. move your straight leg forward on the floor so that the hip socket of the straight leg is several inches. the back muscles will tense and restrict range of motion in the pose.
When you name a line. · · · 67 . mention it to your students. As you grow in experience. When you first begin teaching. understandable language. Don’t expect your students to get everything down in a single practice. teach additional lines of energy when you think it will be helpful. Start with the base and move up the body as time allows. If a line of energy increases range of motion. In a flowing vinyasa class. you might not have time to engage every alignment point. Remember that learning to align takes time. always teach students how to engage the line in clear. stick with the three or four universal lines for each range of motion.a. · Avoid cumbersome language.