Foundation - The Four Corners & Universal Principles of Alignment

The Universal Principles of Alignment

OPENING TO GRACE Having the intention to place oneself—body, mind, and heart—in alignment with the flow of supreme consciousness. This involves approaching asana practice with an attitude of softhearted devotion.

MUSCULAR ENERGY A drawing of energy from the periphery of the body into the Focal Point (see below), which increases stability, strength, and physical integration in the pose.

INNER SPIRAL An ever-expanding energy spiral that moves outward from the core; it runs from the feet up through the pelvis into the waistline area. Inner Spiral rotates the legs inward, moves the thighs backward, and widens the thighs and pelvis.

OUTER SPIRAL An ever-narrowing spiral that moves inward toward the core; it runs from the waistline area down through the tailbone and out through the legs and feet. Outer Spiral rotates the legs outward, moves the tailbone and thighs forward, and draws the pelvis and thighs closer together.

ORGANIC ENERGY An outward extension of energy from the Focal Point through the core lines of the body to the body's periphery, which increases expansion, flexibility, and freedom in the pose.

The Secondary Principles

FOCAL POINT A localized power spot within the body. Muscular Energy draws into it, and Organic Energy extends out from it. There are three possible locations for the Focal Point: the core of the pelvis, the bottom of the heart, and the upper palate. In any given pose, only one Focal Point is active. The active Focal Point is the one nearest the most weight-bearing part of the pose. When the three possible Focal Points are equally weight-bearing, the pelvic Focal Point becomes the active one by default.

SIDE BODY LONG Lengthening the sides of the ribs so the tops of the shoulders come in line with the base of the neck.

SHOULDER LOOP One of the seven energy loops within the body. This loop originates in the upper palate and flows backward to the base of the skull and down the back of the body to the bottom of the shoulder blades. When you engage Shoulder Loop, the head moves back slightly and the shoulder blades move down the back. At the bottom of the shoulder blades, the loop begins arcing forward and upward as it draws the bottom tips of the shoulder blades in and upward, toward the heart. The loop continues forward and up to the palate again as it lifts the chest and opens the throat.

INNER BODY BRIGHT A soulful expansion of feeling and vital energy from within the body that gives the outer form of the body a buoyant fullness. This attitude is created in the first principle, Opening to Grace, in which the fullness of the inner Self is embraced so the inner luster of Spirit naturally shines forth.