I've always loved the details of movement. Watching how different bodies do the same movement in their own unique way is amazing to me. Seeing compensated patterns of moving and helping people to feel them is a gift of mine and I love doing it.
My first trainings in yoga were very alignment focused. Each pose has a laundry list of small details and corrections to get into the 'right' way of doing the pose. This set me up with lots of confidence in my teaching and a keen eye for details in my students bodies.
It sounds perfect, and it was, until I started learning more about the variances between different bodies. Why did some students improve quickly while others seemed to be stuck? Why does one student feel a stretch in one place while another feels it somewhere else?
When I met Susi Hatley, my therapeutic yoga teacher trainer, all of that changed. I learned about compensation patterns in the body, load and force management in the body and how truly connected our mind is to our body's state. From my newest yoga teacher trainer, Jules Mitchell, (yes, I might have a problem in my desire to learn everything) I've learned about biomechanics and how they apply to a yoga practice.
Check out this picture below. Those are 6 different individual's left femur (thigh) bone. Look at how unique each of them is. Notice the most obvious length and size differences, but also notice the rotational angles that exist at the two ends of the bones. Those angles greatly change the available movement at the joints-and that's just the bones! Tension levels in soft tissue make for another big variation as well. While one person's warrior pose feels natural with the traditional heel to arch alignment another will be off balance and need to compensate somewhere else in their body to meet that alignment cue.
Incidentally, I believe this is why there are conflicting cues about poses that come from different lineages of yoga. What worked in one Guru's body did not work the exact same way in another's. Each Guru's pedagogy is a reflection of how yoga felt, subjectively, in their body and informed their beliefs on how a specific body position is to be achieved.
So there's not a right way to move? Well, yes and no. For each individual, there is a way that feels right to them, but it may be different from another individual. It can feel a little overwhelming at first to come to this realization. Suddenly it felt like the answer to every question was 'it depends'...and it does, however as a yoga teacher, fitness instructor or coach the most powerful thing you can do is empower your student to feel a movement in their own body in various ways and let them choose what is best for them. You don't need to know everything! Explore movement with curiosity.
Who am I to tell someone that the way they move their body is wrong. I only have my own body to experience this world and I have no idea what it feels like to be in anyone else's body. So get out there and move your body...in all kinds of ways...find your very own perfect way of moving