Engagment Vs. Alignment
There are so many opinions about how to do each posture in yoga, and they each of their benefits and their draw backs. The major confusion however comes from not understanding the difference between a muscle engagement and an alignment. Alignment is a placement of your bones or a set of joint articulations. A muscle engagement within a static posture is what we would call isometric – engagement without movement. To help you understand, get into chair pose with your knees bent. Ask yourself if your quads are active? Yes, of course they are, but the quads are the muscles that straighten your legs and yet your knees are still bent. THIS is why so many get confused, you can engage muscles that support the alignment, and you can engage muscles that appose the alignment.
Balancing Action Vs. Fundamental Action
In Chromatic Yoga I created two terms to help understand isometric engagements. Balancing action is the muscle engagement that apposes the alignment – Quadriceps activation in chair pose is the perfect example. Fundamental Action is an isometric engagement of same muscles as the joint alignment, so in the case of chair pose you would have to engage your hamstrings which is challenging due to the relationship to gravity in that posture. An easier example is plank pose, you have to activate your triceps in order to keep the elbows straight. To clear up the how to of chaturanga I have created the following video.
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The Chaturanga Breakdown
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