My Experiments with Yoga: Out of Alignment and Just Right

by Ryan Larsen

I had what I believe was a profound teaching moment recently.  I was teaching an intermediate/advanced yoga class, and I asked the students to step into Tree pose.  As I was watching my students, one in particular caught my eye.  A barrage of conflicting thoughts came to me. While she was completely out of alignment, her pose looked just right.  “Out of alignment” and “just right” can’t possibly exist simultaneously.  Or can they?  As I looked at her, I saw that her bowls were not stacked, her tail bone and chin not tucked, and her arms not vertically above her shoulders in straight, tall lines. Instead, her tailbone arched away from her as her chest was reaching outward, her chin lifted toward the sun, and her arms stretched up in a V formation, like branches reaching toward the sky. She glowed. She radiated. She literally looked like she was about to lift off like a rocket!  It was such a beautifully radiant and serenely happy Tree that I didn’t dare mess with her. The precision-oriented part of my brain dissected what she was doing “wrong”, but it felt so right. After a very brief, internal struggle, I let her be, unperturbed.  In this moment, I felt that the best teacher I could be was one who kept quiet.

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