Alignment is the cornerstone of Iyengar yoga practice. Often think about alignment, in terms of the body and its various parts during the practice of asanas (postures). The significance of this aspect of alignment in balancing and protecting joints, muscles, organs, blood vessels and body tissues is well known even to beginners in Iyengar yoga practice. What may be lesser known, the importance of alignment with respect to the flow of energy in the body.
According to the adepts of yoga, masters of the past and present, we are all multilayered – kosha. The outer layer, or physical level, makes up our material body and is the most concrete, familiar, and accessible.
The next layer, called pranamayakosha, is the energy layer. This is due to prana. Prana is the life force that permeates the Universe at all levels, as physical, mental, intellectual, sexual, spiritual and cosmic energy. It manifests in us as strength, power, life and spirit. Although the physical level and energy level can be described and felt in different ways, they are inseparable, continuous, and interconnected. What happens in one is directly related to, influences and influences what happens in the other. This is where the importance of alignment comes into play at a different level. Just as water takes the form of a vessel through which it passes, thus also makes energy. Where there is constipation, the flow is difficult – where the paths are open, the flow is free. Correct alignment of the body, thus, ensures the optimal flow of energy in the body.
This connection between the alignment of the body and our energy level becomes much more apparent in the practice of pranayama. Breathing is a tool with which the yogi directly addresses prana, the life force. If it is difficult for you to keep your chest open, in the practice of pranayama, when you are standing or sitting, then you will feel overstressed. Your breathing will be limited and your energy will be blocked and reduced. It is necessary to stand or sit straight, with open chest with a relaxed diaphragm, and your breathing will flow more freely, and you will receive much more vitality. Therefore, alignment is key.