Let Your Body Hang and Allow Your Skeleton to Do the Pose!

PVYU Founder David Magone

Using your understanding of how to position the three weights and the bicycle chain makes aligning vertical postures very easy.   When you encounter a pose like Warrior II, you can imagine that the central axis were like a fulcrum and level the weight of the pelvis, skull and hips on it.  Once the three blocks are in place, you can then stabilize the posture by allowing the weight of the three blocks to flow down the spinal column and increase the tension in the front of your body to hold everything in place.

B.K.S Iyengar in Tadasana Pose

While these simple steps can be followed to create a more efficient posture while standing, walking or practicing poses like tadasana, many of the yoga postures that we commonly encounter in a class require a finer degree of control over certain key sections of the body.  For this reason, our system includes 9 additional lines of energy called action lines.  Action lines are used to refine our postural alignment and positioning while we perform more complicated postures such as backbends, side bends and forward folds.

Where Do These Nine Lines Come From?

The Inimitable Lulu Sweigard

The 9 lines of movement are derived from research conducted by Dr. Lulu Sweigard.  Over the course of her research, Dr. Swiegard was able to discover nine areas of the skeletal structure which when correctly placed directly influence the positioning of the skeletal structure as a whole.  According to Dr. Sweigard, the location and direction of each of these lines of energy is a ‘line of movement’ between skeletal parts, each beginning and ending in bone.

Betty Riaz Deepening a Fierce Stretch With the Sternum Line and Shoulder Line

Adaptatations to the System

When I first began cataloguing our system, I used Dr. Sweigard’s nine line theory to direct my alignment explorations.  Upon doing this, I quickly discovered that the original lines of energy needed to be adapted and augmented in order to meet the unique demands of an active yoga practice.  To that end, I’ve modified  Dr. Sweigard’s original theories in the following ways four ways:

*  I’ve given names to each line of energy to make referencing them easier.

*  I have identified two extra lines of energy not included in Dr. Sweigard’s original research – the shoulder line and the skull line.  These lines are particularly helpful in weight bearing postures like the down dog, and all backbends and forward folds.

*  I’ve shifted the way that we utilize the line of energy that aligns the sternum to make it more applicable to backbending and forward folding poses.

*  In addition, I’ve replaced a line of energy that narrows the front of the pelvis with the more commonly practiced Uddiyana Bhanda.  This line now called the abdominal line is very helpful in twisting and folding postures.

What Will Learning the Nine Lines Do For Me?  

This system will help you learn how to quickly and effectively position virtually any yoga pose that you will ever encounter in a yoga class.  By using Dr. Sweigard’s original research as a starting point, we’ve been able to develop an adapted system that will help you avoid overuse injuries in your postures, develop greater endurance and experience instantaneous changes in range of motion.  

Next Week:  The locations of each of the nine lines and a description of how to use the ankle line to position your feet while you practice.    

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