There’s nothing wrong with performing the yoga asana exercises with proper alignment and adjustment from the teacher to gain maximum benefits, as well as to ensure maximum safety, or minimize the risk of injuries, in the standpoint for safe and effective physical exercise.
Yoga is about unconditional peace and compassion through the realization of the truth, free from ignorance, egoism, identification, attachment, craving and aversion, and all sorts of impurities. Yoga asana practice is one of the many ways to help to influence the state of the mind, prepare the mind for meditation.
Does it mean that when the students are able to perform the yoga asana exercises with the perfect correct alignment and with some adjustments from the teacher to make the postures as ‘good’, as ‘correct’, as ‘perfect’, as ‘graceful’, or as ‘beautiful’ as much as possible, then they will be peaceful and compassionate, and will be free from ignorance, egoism, identification and attachment? And if the students are not able to perform the yoga asana practice with the perfect correct alignment and don’t make any adjustments to make the postures as ‘good’, as ‘correct’, as ‘perfect’, as ‘graceful’, or as ‘beautiful’ as much as possible, then they will not be peaceful and compassionate, and won’t be free from ignorance, egoism, identification and attachment? Does everyone need to be able to go beyond certain degrees of flexibility to be able to see the truth?
No doubt that the body and mind will feel good when the body is able to do what we want to do, to achieve certain results that we want to achieve, but this is just some momentary satisfaction, pride and good feelings coming from gratifying the desires of craving and aversion, through getting the things that we like and want the way that we like it to be, and by not getting anything that we don’t like and don’t want. It is not the unconditional peace that is undetermined by the qualities of names and forms.
Yoga asana practice is nothing to do with perfect physical alignment, nor it’s about making the body to be more strong and flexible than it is now. It is also has nothing to do with adjusting the yoga asana poses until we think it is ‘good’, ‘right’, ‘perfect’, ‘graceful’, or ‘beautiful’ enough. Nor does yoga has anything to do with what kind of benefits that we are getting from performing all these yoga asana practice. The benefits will be there as they are as we perform our practice, but all these benefits cannot guarantee the practitioners to be free from ignorance and egoism, and realize unconditional peace and compassion. That’s why there might be people who practice yoga asana regularly for years, and getting all the benefits from the yoga asana practice, but they might still be disturbed, affected, influenced and determined by the qualities of names and forms, and have no peace. Some people may never perform any yoga asana exercises, not to say in perfect correct alignment, but they are peaceful and compassionate.
By giving some instructions about the ‘correct’ alignment, and making everyone in the class to be doing the yoga asana exercises in accordance to the ‘correct’ alignment has nothing to do with the realization of unconditional peace and compassion in the yoga practitioners. It is the teachings and practice of letting go of the egoism, attachment, identification, craving and aversion, and free from being affected or influenced by the past memories and the future anticipations or projections, free from judgment, comparison, expectation, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, pride, arrogance, feelings of hurt or guilt, agitation, depression, anxiety, doubt, fear and worry, that allow one to be peaceful and compasionate. One doesn’t need to be able to perform the yoga asana poses with the perfect correct alignment to achieve that.
Everyone has a different body with different physical limitations. Many of the perfect correct alignments are beyond the physical limitations of some people. It is not natural nor comfortable for some people to perform certain exercises in accordance to the perfect correct alignment, and thus unnecessary tension is generated in the mind, and injuries are generated in the physical body, when they try to do the exercises or poses to meet up the requirement for perfect correct alignment, and forcing their body to go beyond its limitations.
It’s about to go beyond all the qualities of names and forms, to realize attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness, and to go beyond all the identifications with the body and the mind, as well as the attachment towards all the qualities of names and forms to be who we are. It’s not about to go beyond the physical limitations, by challenging the physical body to be more strong and more flexible than it is now, and pushing the body to go beyond its limitations, generating unnecessary tension and injuries onto the body.
It is aware of the reality, and allow the reality to be what it is. It is accepting the physical condition and abilities in the present moment now as it is, without attachment nor identification with the physical condition and abilities to be who we are. Knowing that even this present condition and abilities of the physical body is impermanent and it will change, and allow all the impermanent changes to be what they are, from moment to moment.
Everyone just need to perform the exercises or poses at their own capacity and at their own ease, in accordance to their physical condition and abilities in the present moment now, without any judgment, comparison, expectation, craving and aversion. There’s no stress or tension generated in the mind, and there is minimal risk of injuries when they perform all the exercises in a relaxed manner and moving into the poses calmly and gently, without forcing the body to go beyond its limitations. Everyone might look differently from one another while doing the same type of exercises or poses, as they all have different flexibility and limitations. And it’s fine.
It’s about performing all our practice, actions, duties and responsibilities towards oneself and others out of compassion, without attachment towards the actions and the fruit of actions. There’s no expectation towards any benefits of the yoga asana practice, nor expectation towards the results or benefits of the yoga asana practice to be the way that we think it should be, but allow the results or the benefits to be there as they are.
May all be free through self-inquiry.