Internal AlignmentJan 02, 2023 10:46AM ● By Nicole Zornitzer
Recently, I attended a yoga asana class with the theme “internal alignment”. What a clever concept, I thought, to focus on the internal body versus the exterior alignment of limbs. It is easy to lose sight of why we practice the physical aspects of yoga. We enter a class and go into autopilot or competitive mode by perhaps challenging our physical body to contort into postures that are uncomfortable versus listening to our subtle mind. At times, this mindset is okay, however, the real yoga happens internally and quite honestly has very little to do with the physical asana. Asana is meant to open channels of thought or energy to then dive deeper into answering the on-going question of “why”.
Internal alignment encourages us to seek answers regarding our mind/body connection—without internal peace it will be impossible to achieve external peace. When led by a skilled instructor, a yogi will be challenged to dive into consciousness and observe patterns of behavior, repetitive thoughts, relationship with ego and acknowledgement of past samskaras (traumas).
It is human nature to seek happiness in life. I cannot imagine anyone who would argue otherwise. However, happiness and finding the joys of this emotion takes effort and at times riding through mental pain to ultimately reach samadhi (total self-collectedness). When we find ourselves in a position of the observer of thoughts or actions, also known as the witness self, we can find the answers to many of life’s questions. It is my belief that our purpose in life is to clear our karma and learn the lessons we were brought onto the earth to do. This is only possible when we are open and vulnerable to experiencing uncomfortable moments and being honest with what we can change in our own lives to find true happiness.
Internal alignment allows us to reach bliss or ananda because we are aligning our thoughts, actions, and emotions with the physical experience in the body. Energy will be free-flowing and the nadis (rivers of “energy” in the body) are clear and open to receive. The true challenge of “yoga” is to address what may be holding us back from experiencing internal peace and actively change those patterns in the spirit of finding internal alignment.
The next time you step onto your yoga mat, I wish is that you close your eyes, breathe deeply, and find the space in your mind to experience the physical aspects of yoga while connecting with your subtle internal body. Your physical practice will elevate and most importantly, your mind-body connection will enable you to release what no longer serves and create space for what does.
Nicole Zornitzer, ERYT 1000, yoga therapist, founder of Niyama Yoga & Wellness Shala, located in Randolph, New Jersey; Upper Lake Mohawk in Sparta, New Jersey; Roseland, New Jersey; and Delray Beach in Florida. NiyamaYogaShala.com.