I vividly remember entering a yoga studio as a novice and hearing the slender, sprightly instructor speak of alignment. At that time, and for many years following, I tried diligently to practice my yoga from a place of alignment. Like many students, I took quite seriously my practice and wanted to reap the many gifts of time on my mat, all while remaining injury-free. It was my assumption, that so long as I aligned my spine, grounded my feet, tucked my tailbone and opened my heart, I could proudly claim myself as aligned.
Years later, as I dove deeper into my practice, I saw the naiveté of my earlier assumptions. While being physically aligned in my asana practice was crucial for preventing shoulder and back injuries, doing so was only part of my spiritual journey. Little did I know that this idea of alignment encompassed nearly every facet of my physical and emotional self. If I was truly dedicated to knowing, loving and unconditionally accepting my deepest self, as my yoga beliefs proclaimed, I would need to explore alignment outside of a simple asana practice.
With courage and the occasional wavering fear, I decided to look honestly at my life. Did the choices I made on a daily basis bring me into alignment or draw me further from the authentic self I hoped to know? I began to wonder if perhaps, the emotive messages of disconnect, resentment and joy, were hints from my true nature, calling me to pay attention. With this new awareness, I began to notice, albeit it slowly and in perpetual fear, of how and when I felt aligned. In sadness I chose to bid farewell to situations that compromised my core beliefs, relationships that drained my energy, foods that provided little nourishment and habits that perpetuated self-defeating beliefs. And in joy, I chose to warmly welcome the people, moments and experiences that filled me with overwhelming love and light: writing, gardening, walking barefoot in nature, listening to heartfelt music and listening attentively to my husband. Despite my self-doubt, I soon discovered that I did, in fact, know the ways in which I could best align myself with authenticity. Why I had waited to take action for so many years, still amazes me. But now, I cease every moment on my mat – every posture and every breath – knowing that a rich opportunity for alignment awaits me.
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