Since coming back from my knee injury and yogic abstinence, I noticed for the first time that I have access to the muscles at the base of my spine. I can tell the qualitative difference between allowing my hips to tip forward and engaging my mula bandha (or maybe some other combination of muscles) to support the stem of my spin. When I do it right, it sets off a kind of chain reaction up and down my body. My abdomen automatically firms up; the same of my back feels an instant release from tension as it straightens up; my shoulders loosen up and I am actually able to access my shoulder blades to move them closer together or farther apart; the shift in my thoracic spine means that my chest girdle opens up, broadens and allows a deep breath. On the lower end of my body, my hips immediately line up under my thighs, encouraging the energy spirals that the Anusara teachers love to emphasize; the alignment automatically kicks into the rest of the leg all the way downs to the soles of my feet.
A couple of times when I’ve had to stand all the way home on the Metro, I’ve been sensitive to this new alignment and can engage and sustain it consciously as the car sways and lurches. “Correct alignment” is much less tiring than a slouch (just letting it all hang together loosely); it’s almost like the kundalini rising up from mula bandha. But I can’t seem to maintain the alignment when I am not consciously enforcing it. I will get distracted in something, then snap out of it and see that I’ve lost the posture.
This new awareness has also driven home the need for core strength, but aligned correctly. The days that I don’t have yoga classes, I am trying to fit in exercises that strengthen my core.