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Deeper Learning Series: Five Senior Teachers Discuss Their Theories Of Alignment

Everyone with a physical practice—yogis, gym rats, dancers, Olympians—is familiar with the term "alignment." But the definition-range is wide. What does it actually mean to be aligned?

B.K.S. Iyengar remains yoga’s reining alignment doyen, even after death. Be it by block,

blanket, bolster, or belt, his influence on the teaching of poses continues to trickle into almost any yoga space—and teacher training—in the world.

“The purpose or goal of asana is to align and harmonize the physical body and all the layers, or sheaths, of the subtle…body,” Iyengar wrote in Light on Life. “But how does one align these layers and experience integration? How does one find such profound transformation in what from the outside may look simply like stretching or twisting the body into unusual positions? It begins with awareness.”

Other teachers may have told you to “laterally rotate the leg” or “engage the quadriceps.” Or maybe they’ve asked you to “lift mula bandha” or “move your liver a little to the left.”

“I hear lots of alignment instructions that imply that if you get into a certain shape—knee over ankle, shoulder over wrist—you will be aligned, and safe,” said Amy Matthews. But “I differ…because I know that you can have your knee over your ankle and still be disorganized internally, and can still hurt yourself."

Alignment is clearly a can of worms.

This Thursday, September 24, five senior teachers will gather at

The Breathing Project to open and delve into this can. This will mark YogaCity NYC’s tenth Deeper Learning Series panel discussion. The panel will consist of Matthews and Abbie Galvin, Brooke Myers,

Jillian Pransky and David Regelin. YogaCity NYC’s Brette Popper will moderate. The evening is currently filled to capacity, but email Katie Jehenson at to be placed on the waiting list. YogaCity NYC will report on the event in a future post.

"I hope this discussion will open up the conversation about alignment, and create a possibility for looking at moving bodies in a different way,” Matthews said.

Where: The Breathing Project, 15 W. 26th St., Manhattan

When: Thursday, September 24, 6:30pm-8:00pm

Waiting list:

—Michael Laskaris

—Cover illustration by Valeria Clark

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