Alignment – it sounds like a discipline for the body, and a structure for the mind. To some of us who enjoy spontaneity, dancing and being silly, alignment can sound like a prison. However, that perspective fulfills the opposite of what achieving alignment can actually manifest in one’s life. In my experience, especially in the practice of Kundalini Yoga, “alignment” is essential as we practise being a compassionate human being. Being aligned means approaching my physical health and needs with compassion, under many different circumstances. Practicing alignment helps me to avoid injury, and especially to strengthen my core body so that I can accomplish more with less, and avoid overexertion and strain. Practising alignment also means showing up with a neutrality to my emotions, to be conscious and present, and then to let go of what I think is right or desirable, and to serve the highest calling in each moment. Alignment happens when we are physically centered, including our physical nervous, immune and endocrine systems, when we are rested and nourished (by breathing, listening, and balancing the kinds of food and drink that serve us and are full of life force prana), and emotionally aware and expressed. Alignment requires that we surrender our Ego and uplift our psycho-spiritual awareness, that we look at who we actually are without the trappings of the stories we tell ourselves we are, especially without the story that alignment means looking in a mirror like some picture of the perfect Yogi.
Yogi Bhajan has said “Either you control everything or you control nothing. You choose.”
It resonates with me – alignment can arise from surrender. I’ve seen that when I want the most control, and eek it out of the world around me, what arises is resistance, the opposite of flow. This works consistently with relationships, especially with children, whose minds are less full of their own stories, yet who are exploring the boundaries of their will and Ego at every turn. When I get all prepared, and then let go and accept exactly what comes without pressuring things and people to my self-conceived will, miracles happen. Shekhar Kapur shows this in a beautiful TED talk on the premise that we are the stories we tell, where he states “The Truth of it all comes on the moment, organically.”
A practice that can assist us to let go of Ego is the practice of tearing up the scripts in our minds, and instilling instead, Trust into the Chaos. In ourselves, in others, in the ecosystem we are a part of, in the planet, in healing, in love. Try these meditation instructions at Spirit Voyage for cultivating Unshakable Trust: Vajrapradama Mudra.
At this time of reaping the harvest of summer, all of our senses are enlivened and the emotions can run high with the dramas of time management, social and work commitments and balance of work – self – and family. Alignment through centering can be our practice whether we are on a yoga mat, driving a car, picking up a toy, running through a forest or laughing on a rock with friends.
In the All levels class (Thursdays), and the Parent-Child class we’ll explore tools for alignment in our physical asana practice this month with Kriyas and warmup exercises that make use of the three Bandhas and which aim to re-align our joints and the three main Nadis. We will explore the use of rhythm to open physical blockages to alignment, and we will strengthen the core.
In the prenatal class, we will dive into gentle, repetitive hip openers, and a regular meditation practice to manifest alignment of the psyche in the tumultuous changes that pregnancy introduces to our minds, hearts and bodies.
See you soon, Sat Nam. Shannon.