Day 5 was probably the most useful day for me as a teacher and practitioner. I’ve always been a little averse to teaching yoga in terms of energy. I think going over-the-top with chakras and prana can make classes less accessible to new students. Also, my background in science makes me a little wary of traditional knowledge. But, after this yoga teacher training, even I can’t deny that referring to energy flows is an incredibly effective way of guiding someone into proper alignment clearly and concisely. Being in proper energetic alignment totally changes the postures, easing tension, and making you feel like you can hold even the most challenging poses forever.
We started by observing each other doing poses, and tried to identify areas of tension. It was an interesting way to observe yoga poses. Often as yoga teachers we get caught up on making everyone adhere to an “alignment checklist” rather than tapping into how each individual is experiencing the posture, and trying to guide them into more ease.
Speaking in terms of energetic lines can help people find a sense of ease. Rising and rooting energetic lines are in opposition, so in yoga, you should feel as if you’re rising up through the crown of the head, sides of the rib cage, and the inseams of the leg as much as you’re rooting down through the feet, tailbone, font rib cage, and shoulder blades. I have a tendency to rise more than to root, so when I’m in standing postures, especially if my arms are lifted, I need to focus on contracting my quads to actively press down through my feet.
Balancing expanding and harnessing energy lines is also important. While expanding across the chest and upper back or reaching the arms out to the sides, you want to draw the arm bones back into the shoulder sockets. For me, focusing on balancing expansion and harnessing around the shoulders, chest, and upper back is the key to holding side plank pose.
I think inner and outer spirals are the hardest to get your head around, but they are key to finding a posture. Inner spirals correspond to internal rotation of the limb (the front side of the limb moves toward the midline of the body) and outer spirals correspond to external rotation of the limb (the front side of the limb moves away from the midline of the body). Just like with the other pairings, inner and outer spirals should be balanced. If the thigh is externally rotating, as in the front leg of warrior II, the lower leg and foot should be internally rotating. Between the internal and external rotation, weight should be even across the big toe and little toe sides of the foot. The external spiral shifts weight to the outer edge of the foot, whereas the internal spiral shifts weight the inner edge of the foot.
It takes some effort and focus to get into balanced energetic alignment, but the end result is a sense of ease in the posture. Dina characterizes it as, “subtle effort towards effortlessness.”
This post is part of a series describing my experience with the first module of my advanced yoga teacher training (RYT500).
Advanced Yoga Teacher Training
Day 1: Resistance
Day 2: Acceptance
Day 3: Breath
Day 4: Emotions
Day 5: Energy
Day 6: Asana
Day 7: Transformation