What is YogAlign?
I asked that same question over three years ago when I first stumbled upon Michaelle Edward’s YogAlign website. On her website, she had before and after photos of students who miraculously got back the natural curves in their body, allowing them to have great posture. I was skeptical…but intrigued…so I scheduled a handful of private classes with her and tested out her method for myself.
The before and after photos posted here were of me, taken by Michaelle. They were taken 7 days apart of each other, after 4 classes of YogAlign. Notice the difference in my forward head carriage, rounding of shoulders, uplifting of chest muscles, toning of abdominal and gluteal muscles, and overall alignment of the ankle-knee-trochanter-shoulder-ear line. I am standing in a natural position in each photo. I am not trying in any way to stand "upright". Remember...this first visit I had with Michelle was to test out her YogAlign method, to use my body as the test subject, to see if I could experience results. As you can see, I did....and I was sold!!!
Michaelle has created a unique take on utilizing the poses in yoga to create a full body tune up which recalibrates how your brain perceives its resting state, allowing you to have good posture effortlessly.
If that sounds good to you, continue reading to learn more.
In YogAlign, we focus on posture alignment rather than pose alignment. Why is posture alignment important?
What naturally aligned posture does ……
Opens up biological pathways that increase feelings of happiness
Keeps your energy level high and can boost confidence
Lowers fear, depression, and anxiety
Makes you more productive
Optimizes breathing and movements
Supports optimal functioning of the integumentary, skeletal, nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, digestive, elimination, immune, respiratory, digestion, muscular and fascial system
A YogAlign class is different than a regular yoga class in many ways.
The first difference you will notice is that there is self-massage. The warm up in the class begins with bringing awareness all the way out to your fingers and your toes, waking up your proprioception and warming up the muscles. It helps to develop the cortical mapping in the areas of the brain that control that part of the body. Self-massage is a great way to circulate lymph and to bring blood flow to the extremities of the body. It is like putting a deposit into the self-care bank account.
All poses are designed to mimic functional daily movement.
The other thing you will notice is the lack of pretzel poses. There are no binding poses, no feet behind the head and no pose that does not support the functional movement of the human body. At any time, if you cannot take an unencumbered diaphragmatic breath, then you need to back out of the pose and assess if the pose is functional to daily movement. Due to this, the YogAlign method is great for any age or level of experience.
That brings me to the breath. It is also different.
Instead of breathing through the nose, you breathe through your mouth in a specific way (called SIP breathing) which allows the diaphragm and the ribs to expand on the inhale, creating an extension of the body; and contract on the exhale while keeping the length in the spine that you created with the inhale. All your organs are attached in one way or another to the diaphragm. By fully engaging the diaphragm through your breath, you are giving your organs an internal massage.
Finally, you will notice a difference in forward folds.
Instead of folding over and hanging with straight legs and a curved lower back, all forward folds are done with bent knees, holding strength and support in the muscles that protect the natural curves of the spine. Many of us sit in chairs all day, allowing our spine to curve forward, unsupported by the muscles designed to protect it. In YogAlign we support the opposite of that detrimental posture, creating strength in the back line of the body.
There are a few more differences you will notice, and these differences create a unique system of movement that allows your brain to reprogram how you hold your body in space, giving you strength and stability so you can effortlessly reawaken your posture.
If this sounds like something you would like to try, then come to Red River Gorge Natural Health Center and experience the YogAlign method for yourself.
Wendy Middleton-Bentley (E-RYT 200/RYT 500) is a certified YogAlign instructor. You can join her 3 different ways to change your posture and change your life.
6:30 pm – Wednesday night drop-in class at the yurt – RRGNHC
Schedule a private YogAlign class - here
Join in on a YogAlign workshop - here
Join in on a YogAlign retreat – Dates to be announced.
All images are from Michaelle Edward's book YogAlign Pain-Free Yoga From Your Inner Core.