Alignment can quickly become a controversial topic in yoga. Those of us who study the topic have no doubt heard various cues, some of which may even be in conflict with one another. Is there a right and wrong answer to these kinds of questions? Is there such a thing as correct alignment?
It is always wrong to try to force your body into a prescribed alignment if the body isn't ready for it. There may be areas of dysfunction that prevent one from entering the supposed "correct" alignment without causing injury. But that doesn't mean that the "correct" alignment can't be approached slowly and carefully, causing a change in the body over the course of years. Doing so will gradually remove the dysfunction in the body that prevents one from reaching the targeted alignment. This method requires vision, dedication, determination, and patience.
Alignment in yoga is an art. You may align your body however you choose. As you do so, you may discover certain effects correspond to certain alignments. What effect do you intend to create? If your desired effect differs from that of another person, then there is no need for the two of you to argue over which way is correct.
When one discovers a profound symmetry in the alignment of asanas, it is interesting to say the least. What does it mean? It will mean different things to different people. Regardless of this fact, the symmetry is there. It may shed light on certain yoga principles for those who are perceptive enough to apply them. It also most certainly would spark debate.
That being said, observe the following image.
I'm showing the two images in a gif format so that we can easily see the similar sizes of the blue triangles. They may indeed be equal in size.
In the downward facing dog position, it is easy to see that the overall shape of the body in this pose closely matches the form of a 30 60 90 triangle paired with a 45 45 90 triangle.
In the upward facing dog position, the same structure is created in reverse, not through the structure, but through the key points of movement. In upward dog, we are focusing on an alignment of moving systems rather than the static structure that we see in downward dog. The green points highlight these points of interest. They correspond to the 3 bandhas, and the pivot points upon which the body moves. In the rear we see the green dot show up at the ball of the foot. Then we see the top and bottom of the spine (mula bandha) coming into alignment, top over bottom. The other pivot point is the shoulder joint (jalandhara bandha). The final green dot is on the naval (uddiyana bandha) which when connected via a straight line (oops, there's that controversial term) through the shoulder pivot gives us the 30 60 90 triangle.
There are many interesting correspondences to be seen here. It opens many avenues of exploration into the symmetries of the human body and of yoga asana. My intent is not to declare that this is THE way to do updog and downdog, but rather it is ONE way to do them. One that has some very interesting symmetries. These lines are not easily located precisely. One should not use a mirror and protractor to achieve them. They should merely be felt and visualized from within. It isn't about achieving the angles. It is about using the points of focus in a coherent way so that as they move through space and change their position relative to each other, they maintain a continuous dynamic tension and vector feedback between and among themselves, so that throughout the movement they remain the controlling factors imparting fluidity and efficiency. Are these important qualities of asana? Absolutely.
"Yoga And Sacred Geometry" Samuel Palmer's second book.
This book reveals the controlling geometry that underlies the structure of the human body and shows how we can use this knowledge to refine and perfect our yoga practice, gain insight into the true purpose of yoga and become a master of your body. Packed with marvelous full color illustrations.
e-book, 172 pages. 3D Computer generated illustrations.