Check This Out: Do Ashtanga and Alignment Go Together?

Great article from Yoga in the Dragon’s Den featuring Kino Macgregor. See the original here

Kino on the balance between alignment and the inner experience of yoga

After writing my previous post, I decided to ask Kino herself what she thinks about this whole alignment-in-Ashtanga issue. I emailed her, and she got back to me within the hour. Which is very admirable, considering her very busy schedule. Her answer is brief but very illuminating, and she has also very generously allowed me to share it here on this blog. This is what Kino says:

“Alignment is not an end in and of itself. The purpose of good alignment is to facilitate a deeper inner experience. If you focus on alignment as the end goal then it diffuses the true power of yoga. The method of yoga is essentially also very simple. In Utkatasana the knees are bent and the hands are up. The depth with which Western teachers, including myself, describe the inner experience of energy and alignment is something that Guruji and Sharath have always left up to the individual to directly experience for themselves. This way each student has the framework for direct perception of the inner body and ultimately their true self and there is more room for variety, experimentation and modification. Sharath is the first person to say that he does not have a beautiful practice according to Western standards. Yet at the same time if you ask him if alignment is important he says yes, for sure, to prevent injury and help the energy flow in the body. I think the key is to find a balance between emphasizing the physical over subtle and disregarding the physical for the spiritual.”

I hope you find her answer as illuminating as I have.

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail

One Comment

  • Hannah Cooper

    Thank you for this. As a practitioner and recently teacher, I’m asking myself this question a lot – when is alignment to be emphasized? Are you breathing better? Do you feel “grounded” in the pose? Are you in pain? If these answers are “yes”, “yes”, and “no” – then that seems to be a good place to be in. While I know this is not a blanketed approach to go by alone, it reminds me of the importance of self-practice – and the immense respect I have for Ashtanga because of it – no one sizes fits all.

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