The world can be a very superficial place, and it is easy to get caught up in how things look, rather than how they truly are. Even in yoga, we may focus too much on the form, the external appearance of the pose - or what we think we should look like while doing it - and as a result, we compromise how we feel in the pose in order to get there.
The ever-amazing, ever-cool Nico Luce is a master at giving his students a safe, balanced practice that focusses on optimal alignment rather than always on form, and he feels his work as a yoga teacher is to encourage each of his students to find his own fullest expression of the pose, rather that to work towards an ideal.
In yoga, we call this action over form. Nico further explains that, “action cues are the internal activations of the muscles in the body that bring us greater internal awareness, energy and stability, openness and alignment to the pose.” For example, in W1 you may not be able to have your hips facing forward due to tightness in that area, but if you focus on hugging your inner legs towards one another, bringing the outer back hip forward and drawing the outer front hip back, in time you may be able to do so.
Nico shares that each person’s optimal alignment in a pose will evolve over time as their practice deepens. So if you cannot straighten your legs in down dog, don’t stress, just keep focussing on the actions of engaging your quadriceps and lifting your sit bones up, and over time you will get there. He adds, “Always remember that the action is more important than the form. The work we put in on the inside is more important than how it looks on the outside. If you could choose between looking great while feeling awful or looking awful while feeling great, which would you choose?”
We previously introduced you to Nico Luce in April this year. If you missed this article, you can view it here