Proper alignment is key in yoga. It keeps you safe, makes your practice stronger and it helps to navigate balance. Every time I teach I am constantly looking around the room. I look to see if there are any corrections I can illustrate, even if you’re pose is correct you can still benefit from checking in to your form. These three poses, Downward Facing Dog, Warrior II and Triangle are beginner poses and practiced in almost every yoga class. Review each pose and the comments below, so next time you find yourself in one of these poses you can be mindful of your alignment.
Downward Facing Dog:
A lot of beginners practice Downdog incorrectly. They stop somewhere between Downdog and a high plank. This puts a lot of undue pressure on the shoulders, and sometimes causes injury. In many pictures you will see the heels on the floor, however if your hamstrings are very tight, which is common, it’s impossible to do. You cannot force it, forcing it is counterproductive. I like the suggestion to add a bend to the knees, even with a slight bend in the knees, the chest should press back towards the thighs. Also I love the way her head is lined up with the ears next to the biceps. She not looking under and she’s not looking forward. This position is ideal. I also like that she mentions to “press the floor away from you”. This is another key factor in doing this pose correctly. Downdog stretches all of the back line muscles, from the feet through the achilles tendon, back of the legs, lower back, shoulders to the wrist and hands. It also becomes a place to rest during a vigorous flow.
Warrior II is a standing hip opener, a leg strengthener and a great pose for practicing balance. I love all of the suggestions here. One thing to keep in mind is the width of the stance. If you draw a vertical line from her left wrist to the outside of her foot you can see they more or less line up, same in front. She is working at her maximum stance. This is what you want to strive for. Many beginners work with a short stance so you don’t get the full benefits, however there’s a balance issue they are still trying to master. Warrior II looks simply, and if you hold the pose for a while you will feel how powerful it is. My instructor would say “practice your warrior…from a place of victory.”