The Importance of Proper Alignment

Last night I was going through my photos to find something to inspire people to get on their mats and I come across these:

I always talk about the emotional benefits of yoga – even how each pose affects them. But it’s also always important to be aware of how you’re moving your body because you could be doing damage you have no idea about; whether it be overextension or not properly aligning your muscles and bones.

 

I once read somewhere that dancers are great at being flexible, but that they would often end up later having knee or hips issues from overextending them and not building the muscle to support. Or a body builder, who can lift a ton of weight but can’t touch their toes. Yoga is a great in – between – you get both the strength and flexibility. They’re equal and never ending as you learn you body and all the ways you can move and support it.

 

But there are also common mistakes that may seem like nothing at the time, but can cause issues later. For example, chaturanga. We do it so often in our practice, but many don’t do it properly. For years, I didn’t. But I didn’t know it was a problem. As I’ve continued to master the chaturanga (which props to everyone that can because it’s takes more muscles than you’d think), I have learned that I was potentially causing major damage to my shoulders. Did you know chaturanga is also known as a “shoulder shredder”? 😱 It puts so much pressure on your rotator cuffs and tendons in your shoulders that they eventually tear.

 

I still do find myself doing this from time to time. I actually found these 2 videos that were taken just a few weeks apart and after doing some still frames, realized how in the first photo I’m doing the “proper” chaturanga and in the second I’m not. In the second photo, my shoulder are up towards my ears and below my elbows. That causes possible injuries, because all the weight is being dumped into them.

Proper Chaturanga
Proper Chaturanga
Avoid This
Avoid This

When you maintain your shoulders over your wrists, you are allowing your core and upper body to help support your body (not all pushed into one area). Sometimes after a great class, I wake up and am sore- but directly in my rotator cuffs. Usually you like being sore from working out, but this reminds me I’m doing damage to my shoulders. Where you should feel the muscles be sore the next day is in your triceps. Now, that is a great feeling!

 

It’s important to be aware of how you’re doing yours. If you are dumping in with your shoulders, there are variations. You can start with your knees down and slowly learn the proper alignment and muscle activation. However, I feel like some people don’t want to do that because of the constant criticizing in today’s society and our BFFs – the ego. Don’t let being on your knees make you feel weak! It should make you proud. To know you’re taking care of your body and building strength in so many muscles as we do these so often. Then once you finally master the chaturanga, it will feel so amazing to know you’ve built so many muscles just with your body weight. Mastering the chaturanga helps in advancing to other poses, as many involve upper body strength (arm balances, inversions, etc).

 

I don’t mean to offend anyone by this – I love all sports and hobbies and anything that brings anyone joy! I just want people to be aware of potential damage and how to improve with a simple few inches of adjustment. Want to learn a breakdown? My Thursday C1 classes at 8pm do just that! In this class, all variations are encouraged. Come build strength, flexibility, and maybe experience the emotional benefits as well.

 

That’s why I love yoga- there’s so many things that keep it so centered and never ending. There is no goal- you learn to find success and gratitude in each moment.

 

So yeah… you could say I’m kind of obsessed.

 

Posted by

My name is Lauren and I am yogi and marketing specialist in my mid-20s living in KC after spending a few years finding myself in SF. I love laughing, teaching, learning, Broad City & Workaholics (I tend to clump them together), cooking, trying new things (sounds cliché, but it's true!), writing, art of any kind, growing, bending (my mind and my body), and most importantly, my friends and family. I created The Loving Lotus as a space for me to unwind and share basically all of the above. I am so happy you made it here and would love to hear your thoughts on my page or just talk over a glass of wine or coffee. Feel free to contact me about either. Or both. 🙂

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