On Alignment

“The Alignment IS the Exercise”

One of my favorite teachers said this recently and it gave me pause to think. When I hear something like this, my analytical mind likes to dissect it and see if it really is true.

So let’s dive in.

First of all, what does this statement really mean?

To me, it means if my body is not in proper alignment during a movement, I am not performing the movement most efficiently for MY body, therefore the exercise is out of integrity. This gives rise to a deeper question - is my proper alignment the same as someone else’s? More on that in upcoming blog, I promise.

I learned, teach and practice the “box” alignment method for most exercises. The shoulders in relation to the hips, and in relation to each other, should be as balanced as your body allows. There are only so many ways in which we can move the body (mainly bending, twisting, rolling, and extending), so the box is a wonderful reference point to see if we are at our most efficient (in alignment) within each one of these movements.

So what happens when we are OUT of alignment? Does that mean that the exercise suddenly becomes invalid, not useful, or downright dangerous? I think some element of each or all of those conclusions is correct depending on the amount of misalignment. Therefore, this statement rings deeply true for me.

The unspoken factor here is range of motion (ROM). Working within your box, you can achieve a certain ROM. As soon as your box falters, you are outside your controllable ROM. And that’s how you know where you start to operate outside the realm of efficiency, safety, and likely comfort - out of alignment.

So get on your mat (or your reformer, or whatever), and start noticing how the the alignment truly is the exercise!

Tricia Whitlock