We live our lives mostly unconscious of invisible force of gravity: Earth's, Sun's, centre of Milky Way's... Once in a while we are reminded of it when body parts other than our feet unexpectedly meet hard ground. But gravity is much more than an inconvenience making it harder to get off the couch. Gravity is an embrace of Earth holding her children close to her, keeping our feet, the compass arrow forever pointing towards true centre. The more we attune to this force, the more we allow it to support us, the more effortless it becomes to be. Gravity is what we constantly work with or against, choice is ours. When we are attentive to aligning ourselves to this active energy, when we take life moment by moment, every movement we make is in accordance with universal law. Instead of struggling against gravity, we can start to be held by it. Through mindful physical practices we become aware of the body and its relationship to the Earth, we add depth and sensitivity to our experiences. And what is life but a succession of experiences.
In yoga classes teachers often talk about correct body alignment, pressing one's feet to the floor, squaring hips, broadening shoulders, lengthening the neck and so on. Appropriately aligning physical body is the foundation of one's practice and the greatest step towards injury prevention. It builds up the structure from ground up, with each piece counterbalanced and supported by another. It follows logical geometrical lines and mechanics of motions. Moreover it requires constantly bringing one's attention back into the body, to awareness and observation of sensations, resistances and the whole inner space.
There is no growing, acquiring new skills and knowledge in one's comfort zone. Discomfort, tightness and even pain and fear are indicators of where we are stuck, where we hold back and what we ignore in physical as well as mental world we live in. In any physical training we push our limits, in yoga asana practice the intention is to press our limits firmly but gently, with acute awareness. Through balanced action we discover when to push and when to yield, we find level of resistance which is appropriate for this body and for this moment.
Optimal alignment does not come one-size-fits-all, any garment looks and feels the best when it's in our size and a colour that suits us. Our posture looks and sure feels good when we align ourself in a way that does not put extra weight on any particular joint, in a way that spreads out the weight evenly throughout the whole body. This practice opens possibilities to realising and addressing any tight and blocked areas of the body, and also shows us our habitual way of being.
Yoga Blocks, arguably being the most versatile yoga props, support a practitioner in positions appropriate for a particular bod's conditioning, letting one feel a level of comfort and stability in poses that otherwise might be not reachable nor healthy at this moment. They help us move gently towards our optimal alignment.