Why You Should Stop Teaching Alignment-based Yoga
(and what you can teach instead)
When I first started teaching yoga, I was awed by all these other teachers that knew precisely how poses should look. They were confident when they adjusted me verbally and physically. They knew exactly what I was doing “wrong” and how to fix it.
Turns out, they were all full of shit 💩 .
I took my first anatomy training because I wanted to be like those teachers. But, by the time I completed my second training, I learned that the human body is much more complicated, beautiful and interesting than I realized and can’t be bound to or ruled by the cueing we’re used to in yoga. There is no such thing as universally “good” or “safe” cueing.
So how does this affect our teaching?
Well to begin with, we can stop trying to teach “alignment-based” yoga. I mean stop calling it that, too. It’s just nonsense. Instead, we can encourage our students to explore movement with us and be connected to their own experience. Ask them for feedback like what muscles they feel “turning on” and which they feel relaxing or stretching. Ask them if the movement feels comfortable, uncomfortable or painful and watch/listen to how it affects their breathing and see how it affect their facial expression.
We can also play a lot more in poses in our own practice as well is in our teaching. Take bridge pose for example. This has become one of my absolute favorite poses to play in because there are so many possibilities. For example, below, I’ve listed pairs of opposite actions. Get into bridge pose (right now if you can) and start playing. Go down the list below, and pick one thing to try from the first pair, then the second and so on, adding on actions until you get to the bottom of the list. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure for bridge pose.
Walking your feet as close to your body as you can
Walking your feet as far from your body as you can