Posted by Mercedes Ngoh (Circle of Grace member)
As for my experience with injury and alignment in yoga class, something I learned that really changed my teaching, as well as my own practice, is to work with your own body’s alignment rather than trying to fit your body into a “universal” alignment. There is no “universal” skeleton, so “universal” alignment is an impossible task and a belief that can lead to injury and unnecessary frustration. Not listening to the maximum edge of resistance of one’s body, but rather forcing oneself into a picture perfect image of a pose can not only lead to injury, but to a practice void of self-awareness. This lends to the old adage of “use the pose to serve your body, not your body to serve the pose.
A second common thing I often notice that can lead, not only to injury, but to a disconnection from one’s practice is to slip into what I refer to as “Watchasana” – the habit of constantly “watching” others and comparing oneself. It is so important to get out of the practice of “watching” to see if a fellow student is doing a pose “better” or looks different and then trying to make one’s own body do what the person next to them is doing so as to not be outdone. This is a sure recipe to eventual injury as everyone’s body “resonates” in the postures differently. Instead, to avoid injury, one needs to keep the focus on their own mat and stay connected and aware of their own practice and keep constantly aware of what their body is telling them.
Mercedes Ngoh has spent most of her life studying creative movement and its use as a form of self-expression and spiritual exploration. Having studied various forms of yoga the primary style she now teaches is Vinyasa Flow. Most of Mercedes studies have been in California where she has completed many different certifications. She views yoga as a lifelong, never ending study. For her it is a living science, a practice and an art form. She is constantly learning alongside teaching and has been very fortunate to have studied with various wonderful teachers. To find out more about Mercedes and her next teacher training, go to her website.