My experience with yoga has opened my eyes many aspects of my body. I definitely feel I have a stronger connection with breathe and movement. But what about body alignment? Does yoga help to keep the body in line as well as toned?
Yoga will align your body with consistent practice and it will increase your overall health. By strengthening the muscles around your spine and joints, yoga makes it easier for your body to stay properly aligned and balanced. Proper body alignment leaves you feeling healthy and prevents injuries.
In the rest of this article, we will discuss how yoga helps align the body’s bones and muscles and which yoga poses are best for alignment. We will also detail how a committed yoga practice for proper body alignment can increase your overall health.
Yoga and Body Alignment
Yoga is beneficial for your whole body, not just your alignment. Whatever your level of health or body type, maintaining a yoga practice can improve general health and muscle strength. In addition to strength and posture, yoga increases energy and balance. It also helps with mental presence and keeping you centred.
Alignment is a vital part of health - and an aligned body prevents muscle strain, joint damage, and injuries. Yoga can help with alignment issues if practised consistently and correctly. Strengthening the muscles around the spine improves posture and general alignment. Other yoga postures help the rest of your body stay healthy and aligned.
How Yoga Aligns the Body
Yoga loosens the tense muscles in your body and strengthens them over time. Even the most gentle forms of yoga can increase your flexibility and tone your muscles. This helps your body’s alignment, as the muscles around your joints help to hold your body within the proper alignment.
With the use of various poses, yoga realigns your body. During a regular yoga flow, you will warm up, loosen, and strengthen your back and other areas’ muscles. Depending on the type of yoga, you could also do deep stretches, cardio, or balance exercises.
A yoga flow consists of several poses arranged in a specific order by the yoga teacher. They will instruct you on how to position yourself and how it should feel in your body. Yoga is a little different for everyone, but the poses are universal and easy to adjust to your strength and flexibility level.
Yoga Flows and Muscle Growth
The flow of poses begins by warming up your muscles, so you don’t over-strain them while you are stretching and loosening. The beginning poses are generally slower stretches to wake up your body and get your muscles firing.
Next, a yoga practice will involve more in-depth exercises intended to stretch and loosen tight muscles. These usually repeat throughout the form, and you will be able to hold them longer and better by the end of even one yoga session.
Stronger Muscles For Better Body Alignment
Whether you do power (cardio/exercise-based) yoga or more relaxing yoga, your muscles get a healthy workout. After deep stretches or power flows, a yoga practice will end with complete and total relaxation (usually in the form of Shavasana, or “corpse pose”). This might seem unnecessary, but it gives your body permission to rest after working out and completes the exercise cycle.
Stronger muscles lead to better alignment. With consistent practice, the muscles in your back and legs will be able to hold the joints and bones in their proper places. This gives you the extra energy and health that come from having better alignment. Yoga is an excellent way to increase your muscle strength and flexibility for better spinal strength and overall health.
Which Yoga Poses Are Best for Body Alignment?
A daily yoga practice will undoubtedly help align your body. There are specific poses that work well as individual exercises for spinal strength and alignment. Doing these poses every day (or as part of a regular yoga flow) will increase your posture and align your body.
Cat and Cow Poses
The cat and cow poses are simple back stretches that pair together in many yoga flows. They loosen and warm up all the muscles along the spine. Cat and cow poses are done on the hands and knees by alternately arching your back and pulling your stomach towards the ground.
Doing this stretch several times a day, whether or not it is part of a yoga routine, will strengthen your entire spinal cord and the muscles on the back. Working these muscles will help keep the spine in great alignment. The cat and cow stretches are incredibly beneficial for back strength (and help with lower back pain).
Downward Facing Dog
Downward dog is one of the most common yoga poses for working your entire body. Many other flows and postures stem from downward dog, and it is included in almost every yoga session. Downward dog is made by spreading your hands out shoulder width and pulling your hips up and back, attempting to straighten your legs. Your body makes a triangle shape with the ground.
This yoga pose stretches the muscles in your back and the backs of your legs. Your hamstrings are some of the largest muscles in your body, and keeping them limber and strong will help with total body alignment. The more you practice downward dog, the deeper your stretches can become (and usually, the pose is more comfortable by the end of a session).
The bridge is a pose that is not exclusive to yoga - many fitness instructors use it for leg and lower back strength. To do the bridge pose, lay on your back with your hands by your sides and your heels near your hips. Slowly peel your back off the ground until most of your weight is in your feet and shoulders, and bring your back down one joint at a time.
The bridge pose is one of the most effective exercises for strengthening your spine without putting too much pressure on your lower back. This makes it an excellent choice for improving posture and alignment while exercising.
Cobra or Sphinx Pose
The cobra and sphinx yoga poses both work the upper back and core, which are essential for good posture. Sphinx pose is on the stomach with the elbows under the shoulders and the chest lifted off the ground. Cobra pose is a more intense version of the sphinx pose, with the arms more straight and the chest and stomach both lifted.
Starting with the sphinx pose, you can work up to cobra (and the even more intense version, upward facing dog). These poses will help your body align itself and work the muscles to keep it healthily aligned.
How Alignment Works in Your Body
Alignment is one of the most critical parts of your body’s health but is also one of the most easily ignored. Proper alignment leaves you feeling healthy and prevents injuries. Improper alignment can lead to pain, fatigue, and a greater chance of muscle or joint trauma.
It starts with the spine. When the bones in your spine are in proper alignment, and your muscles are strong enough to keep them there, your body is working at its most efficient. You will have more energy and less overall tension. Consistent proper alignment can work wonders for your health.
Some of the adverse effects of having an improperly aligned spine or body are:
There could also be other explanations for any of these symptoms. So it’s essential to check with your doctor for any consistent and unexplained pain, they could stem from poor body alignment.
Yoga is a great tool to help improve your physical health, including the alignment of your body. Alignment is a vital part of overall health, and yoga will help to align your body correctly. With regular yoga practice, you can improve your posture and alignment and feel healthier and more energetic.