Throughout my years of practice, I’ve come across a couple concepts that spoke really loudly to me.
One is Kim Tang’s “Why make a mess then clean it up, when you can not make a mess at all?” And another is the “Measure twice, cut once” philosophy. Both, I feel, address the same issue in our yoga practice.
In the Bikram class, there is considerable amount of time spent on the set up of a posture. Because it matters.
The set up of the posture is meant to align your body so that the body is aligned IN THE POSTURE.
But too often, I see students set the posture up correctly, and then crumble, contort, and collapse as they move into the posture. The remainder of the time is spent correcting all the things that got misaligned.
But why make the mess, then go back and clean up? Why not set up the posture, move into the posture with the same correct alignment, and spend the remainder of the time enjoying the benefits from the posture?
Let’s look at our Half Moon example so you can put this concept into practice ASAP.
THE SET UP: Make sure toes and heels are together, toes are exactly lined up (not one foot in front of the other), and that the mid-line of your feet is perpendicular with the mirror. Bring your body weight to your heels, press your hips slightly forward, and make sure your hips and shoulders are square to the mirror. Keep the chin a few inches away from your chest so your neck is straight. Stretch up as tall as you can toward the ceiling.
As you move into the posture, keep the hips and shoulders squared. Keep the weight in your heels. Have your chin away from your chest. And CONTINUOUSLY stretch up toward the ceiling.
When you begin to see your shoulders and hips swivel, your chin dip, your arms and legs bend, YOU’VE STARTED MAKING THE MESS.
My best tip to correct this: Stop moving deeper into the posture. (Say what?! Not go deeper?? I’m not quite following…) Yes, you can stop moving deeper because the posture isn’t about going deep. It’s about proper alignment.
Going deeper is a byproduct of having proper alignment. So when you see your posture contorting, stop what you’re doing. Maybe back out an inch. Fix your alignment. Then just hold. And enjoy the benefit of opening up the spine, shoulders, and hips right where you need it. Over time, as your body opens up, you’ll be able to increase your depth, while also keeping great alignment.
Now, start mooning.