Simply put it’s all about flow. The flow of the breath, the flow of spinal fluid and the flow of energy are all affected by posture when we sit down for meditation or to do an exercise. Think of the spine as a hose, when there’s a kink, the water flow is cut off or limited. This is similar to what happens during a meditation or posture when the energy tries to flow, but the effect is diminished.
A straight spine allows the lungs and diaphragm to move more smoothly at full range. When the tailbone tilts towards the earth, the shoulders pull back and the chest rises, the lungs and diaphragm have extra space to move freely while the abdomen can be relaxed.
Give it a try, hunch your shoulders forward and down, experiment to see how much air will fill your lungs. Now as you sit up and bring the shoulders back while raising the chest notice the movement of your diaphragm. Which was easier for you?
When the vertebrae are aligned the spinal fluid has free range of motion during meditation and certain other exercises. The flow of spinal fluid nourishes the brain and the nervous system, allowing messages to flow more clearly. This helps us to receive the benefits of meditation more fully. A slumped spine can also restrict blood flow during meditation and make us feel sleepy.
Learning about the spinal alignment more as I began reading Divine Alignment, I realized how little I actually paid attention to my own spine during meditations. It’s so easy to slip into a peaceful meditation space that makes us forget about the body that sometimes the posture slips on its own. I realized recently that it’s important to start working on this now. If you’re just starting it’s a great time to focus on correct posture so that it becomes a habit.
The Flow of Kundalini
The creative energy within us also moves along the spine and when practicing Kundalini yoga, we activate this flow. When the spine is misaligned or in a slump it’s very easy to restrict the energy flow and cut off the effects of meditation. This sensitivity comes with time, I often chanted in the beginning with my head tilted back, feeling like my throat was more open. Now as I chant and realize that my head is falling back I can really feel the difference as I return my head into neck lock and hear the flow of sound move freely. I feel such gratitude for the teachers that emphasized proper posture so that I can now notice the difference as I practice.
I thought for a long time that I had near perfect posture, but practicing with Divine Alignment has really pushed me to sense and feel the challenge of perfecting the seated easy pose. I’ve discovered tiny muscles in my back that I don’t normally pay attention to. I was surprised how quickly my back felt fatigued and sore from the smallest amount of posture practice. Keeping that in mind it’s important to start with frequent short practices of sitting up straight in correct posture and extending from there. I suggest even accomplished yogis give this a try and see how returning to the basics can transform your practice!