The PranaVayu Core system of alignment provides a short-hand for teachers and students to conceptualize and communicate efficiently the positioning of truly any yoga posture. In my experience, the system can drastically increase range of motion in the matter of one single practice. Better yet, it’s all very easy to learn – many students have been able to assimilate the principles of the system over the course of a single weekend training session.
In designing this system, I have combined universal structural engineering principles with a deep exploration of human anatomy in order to identify nine conceptual lines within the skeletal structure that can be used to position yoga postures quickly and efficiently. As mentioned in previous posts, this work has been deeply influenced by the original research of Ideokinesis Founder Mabel Todd and Dr. Lulu Sweigard.
So what are the names of these lines?
The names of the 9 action lines are:
1. Ankle line
2. Femur line
3. Pelvic/thoracic line
4. Sacral line
5. Abdominal line
6. Rib line
7. Sternum line
8. Shoulder line
9. Skull line.
Moving forward, I’ll describe the location of each action line and provide the specific alignment cues, actions and imagery associated with engaging each line of energy so that you can begin using them in your yoga practice.
1. The Ankle Line
The foot and ankle joint support the weight of the entire body. Establishing a firm foundation by centering the foot and ankle joint can improve balance, reduce wear and tear on the knees, create openness in the hips and make it easier to align the body as a whole.
Alignment from Tadasana
To engage this line from a standing position, follow these three steps:
1. Position the foot in a neutral position: Turn your heels slightly outward until the inner edges of your feet are parallel like skis.
2. Lift your toes and spread them apart. Ground down the base of the big toe and the base of the little toes.
3. Softly spread the toes outward on the earth and allow your weight to pour through the center of the heel to the earth.
To imagine what it is like to center your feet and ankles, imagine standing on a sandy beach with the lines connecting your second toe and Achilles tendon parallel. Spread your toes apart and rebalance your weight until you are able to leave even indentations under all four corners of the feet.
Try integrating the ankle line into the following poses:
Dancer’s Pose – notice how evenly grounding the foot and allowing the toes to fan out on the floor improves balance.
Triangle Pose – use the ankle line to ground all four corners of both feet. NB: Since the back foot is turned in in the triangle pose, you don’t need to worry about making the ankle line parallel in the back foot.
Paschimmottanasana – Align the ankles just as you would in tadasana for a more balanced hamstring stretch.