By Renee Fulkerson
In YogAlign, we actively seek out positioning, alignment, and movement that reflects how we move in daily life. We avoid uncomfortable, unnatural, and compressive positions that restrict deep breathing or that cause spinal compression. When aligned with the spine in natural curves, the body connects naturally as a continuum. We feel relaxed, balanced, secure, and peaceful. We can be in a comfortable and natural state of being, connected to our true essence.
YogAlign encourages proper body alignment, builds strength, and increases mobility.
YogAlign can add longevity to your life by providing a template for the body to follow, allowing it to be functional and highly mobile well into old age.
YogAlign emphasizes maintaining natural body positions and the natural curves of the spine. Utilizing only postures that mimic functional movement.
The basis of a YogAlign practice is to create and maintain posture in natural alignment. The emphasis is on posture, not the poses.
What differentiates YogAlign from other practices? By focusing on the rewiring of real-life movement patterning. Instead of confusing the body with poses that do not necessarily stimulate real-life function or movement.
The practice of YogAlign is centered on eight principles:
- Create the Foundation with SIP Breathing.
- Learn to Activate the Psoas Muscle-“The Core of Your Core.
- Establish Spine Alignment.
- Learn Concentric/Eccentric PNF Neuromuscular Postures.
- Free Your Fascia and Know Your Anatomy.
- Learn Self Massage and Sensory Body Awareness.
- Practice Presence and Awareness Now.
- Know Your Bodies Authentic Needs.
The Core SIP Breath or Structurally Informed Posture inhalation creates an extension in the body and an engagement of your waist muscles deep in your core. When you exhale in YogAlign, you will practice keeping this length in your spine and waist rather than letting the contraction movements of exhalation collapse your waist and pull your sternum and breastbone down.
With awareness, your inhales and exhales; can be used to traction, align and strengthen your spine and the muscles that act upon it. Using this breathing process can support you in achieving natural alignment. That will free your neck and shoulder muscles from the constant strain and overuse that occurs when breathing and posture are less than ideal.
The Psoas Muscle ~ The Core of Your Core ~ What does that mean? In YogAlign, the psoas is just one of the four muscles we will be referring to as the core muscles. The psoas major joins the upper body with the lower body. It forms part of a group of muscles called the hip flexors, whose action is primarily to lift the upper leg towards the body. When the body is fixed or to pull the body towards the leg when the legs are stable.
If constricted and weak, the psoas can cause back and hip pain. And can also engage the fight or flight nervous system. Creating feelings of anxiety, Why is it important to learn how to engage, activate, lengthen and relax this muscle/ group to live pain-free from your core.
Establishing and supporting your spine’s alignment and your natural curves in YogAlign practice is yet another way to live a pain-free life. Spine alignment is a determinate of your overall health and quality of life. You should practice yoga postures that support and engage the natural curves of your spine. That is why in YogAlign practice, all yoga poses stimulate good posture and functional, real-life movement. Good health is regained painlessly and quickly by addressing posture and breathing habits. Supporting natural alignment during yoga, fitness, and life’s daily movements.
Learning and practicing Concentric/Eccentric PNF Neuromuscular Postures is simply tightening what feels tight. PNF is an acronym for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. It is a technique activating a specific muscle to relax the muscles around a joint. So, you can decrease the stiffness around a joint. In YogAlign practice, we refer to this as resetting the tension. The PNF essentially outwits your habituated stretch reflexes and resets resting muscle length, which determines your level of flexibility. Tightening a muscle past its normal contraction or, tightening what is already tight, during exercise throws a switch in the nervous system creates more flexibility. PNF allows strength and flexibility at the same time. Quickly with no pain or strain to muscles or joints.
Freeing your fascia and knowing your anatomy are topics woven throughout the entire YogAlign practice. Basic knowledge of anatomy will grow as you begin to relate the yoga poses and their benefits to your body. Fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. YogAlign uses the inner movement of deep breathing to bring blood flow and fascia releasing where it would be otherwise impossible to palpate or massage your structure. The YogAlign combination of SIP breathing, self-massage, and yoga postures can be very effective in freeing your fascia. Drink lots of water to keep your fascia hydrated and pliable. We are made mostly of water and space.
Sensory Body Awareness and Proprioception in YogAlign practice allows you to pay attention to the sensations of tension and/or release in the muscles. Feeling where the body is in space and time, and become aware of the kinesthetic sensations while moving through your yoga poses. Sensory Body Awareness and Proprioception will support you in practicing presence and awareness in the now ~ staying in the moment.
Practicing YogAlign, gradually, you attain the innate muscle memory that allows you to maintain natural alignment. Without thinking about it-moving gracefully and with ease from the core center of your body with a toned, flexible spine and strong stabilized joint functions. Showing up to YogAlign practice will allow you the time and space to get to know and support your body’s needs.
Michaelle Edwards is the creator of the YogAlign Method on the Island of Kauai.