How To Always Be In Alignment With Yourself

Photo: Michael Taylor

When you move in a way that's natural to you, you'll feel good. You'll be in alignment with yourself. This is a great place to be, all the time. When you move in a way that is awkward and unnatural, you won't feel so good. You'll be out of alignment with yourself. You'll need to stop, and try to fix things.

Often in yoga I see movement that isn't natural, to anyone. We're in an uncomfortable, awkward position, and then try to move. When we're uncomfortable to start, we move uncomfortably. It never gets better from uncomfortable. This creates an alignment problem. Moving in a way that isn't comfortable or natural to us, we fall out of our own alignment. Now we have a problem that needs fixing. So we stop, pose, and try to fix it.

It doesn't feel good, moving unnaturally, out of alignment with yourself. It also doesn't feel good to need fixing. But we're often taught this over and over again in yoga. Move, stop, fix, move, stop, fix.

In this way, yoga becomes a practice of being incorrect, and needing a teacher to correct us. It's stressful. Every time we stop, we know it's not quite right. We know it doesn't feel quite good. And we know the teacher will tell us how to fix it. Maybe, at some point, it will feel better. But for our reality right now, yoga also becomes a practice of feeling uncomfortable.

For a long time, this way of practicing yoga — putting ourselves in stressful positions, then burning through discomfort as a path to purification and transcendence — seemed at least intellectually appealing. But the science of stress has come a long way, and it's now clear that it just isn't a good idea. There are many benefits to developing focus, and simply moving our bodies, that might make any yoga better than doing nothing. But furthering our chemical addiction to our body's stress response, by putting even more stress in our yoga, isn't the best we can do. We can do much better.

Unnatural movement that causes stress and needs fixing has become very common in most mainstream forms of yoga. Easygoing yoga that isn't stressful — that keeps us in line with our selves, feeling good the whole time — has become the outlier. We can all learn from these outliers. There is a much better way.

Move naturally. Be in line with your self, always. Don't create problems to fix.

This works for yoga, and everything else. How? Slow down. Connect. Discover what is natural to you.

Of course there's a challenge here. We have for a long time practiced something different, and we get good at what we practice. We've learned how to push unnaturally in our minds and bodies, and endure all kinds of discomfort. We hope that this might lead to something good, someday. No pain, no gain. The world is a tough place, and you can't get what you want without a struggle. It's stressful, it doesn't feel good, but it's what we know.

With all this practice, natural movement might not come naturally to us at first. But we can get there. It simply takes a different kind of practice. We can begin with our yoga. Practice moving easily in a way that feels good to you, always. Don't wait for the poses to fix anything. Move in alignment with yourself, always. Take your time. Let yourself be a beginner here. You're worth it.

We create the world, the same as we create our selves. We create through how we move in this world. We create through how we move in our lives.

When we move out of alignment with our selves — disconnected, not feeling, in need of fixing — the world will always feel too fast. Overwhelming. Unattainable. Getting to what we want lies beyond what we can imagine. We can only put our heads down and push, never really expecting to arrive. And if we do arrive, it doesn't even feel good, where we are. Because the steps we've taken to get there have never felt good.

When we move in alignment with our selves — connected, feeling, and responding to our own nature — we have a different view of this world. We know that everywhere there is to go, everything there is to do, begins exactly where we are. So we're able to be here. Without fear, hurry, or struggle. Just connecting, just creating. We have time. And it feels good, being here, being you.

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Michael Taylor

Mike Taylor is the co-founder of Strala along with his wife, Tara Stiles. He studied mind-body medicine at Harvard and complementary medicine at Oxford. Mike has practiced Eastern movement and healing, including tai chi and qigong, for more than 30 years. In his younger years, Mike challenged centuries of reasonable and well-tested martial traditions in hundreds of competitions by applying unruly imagination to a world where rules were unbreakable. His record established the strength of finding your own way in your own body rather than copying the techniques of other people’s traditions. As he got older, Mike continued on to medical applications of the mind-body connection in university. After running into walls with standard medical practice in the United States and England, he left his health care roots for a little while. As the first internet boom was getting started, he joined the startup team of one company, then founded a couple more. Now through Strala, Mike has found his way back to health care done right: helping people let go of stress in their bodies and minds, enable their lives, and become their own best caregivers.Mike has climbed some of the world’s largest mountains in Alaska, the Alps, and the Himalayas. He’s now a cyclist and runner and spends as much free time as possible exploring the backcountry on foot, skis, and snowboard. He lives in New York with his wife, Tara, and baby, Daisy.

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