Alignment in Yoga



Unilateral work.

We’re used to hearing and seeing these words from coaches and in programming. It’s a crucial part of setting foundations for strength – and avoiding injury.

If for example, we find a single arm push press or Bulgarian split squat harder/easier on one side, it’s generally natural that we tune into that and work to ‘close the gap’ between right and left – both to contribute to performance in the gym and to avoid the effects of structural imbalances/issues with posture in everyday life.

Approaching yoga in the same way makes sense. The concept of alignment has been talked about since the oldest schools of yoga were formed – in a larger sense it refers to equanimity between body and mind. On a smaller scale it’s about symmetry in the body.

The key is not to try and force a certain range on one side because you achieved it on the other.

Yet for some reason people do.

It may be because there’s a misconception around the need to be bendy in yoga – and therefore people try to ‘max out’ in a stretch. But like the gym, there’s a time for this based on how your body feels and most of the time, we’re just looking to move well. 

There are some key ‘unilateral’ poses in yoga – make sure you follow along with my video below – designed to find space in the body.

I challenge you to tune in to your imbalances, and using our breath and alignment-based cues, work on ‘closing the gap’ rather than forcing unnecessary range.

If you’re a regular gym goer your strength will help with muscle activation in the practice – and the practice will only assist in your training.

For more recovery tips and practices, give Annika a follow on Instagram at @themindfulnesscoach_.