“Keep your head neck spine, straight”.

In the course of training my own teacher trainee now, I had some of the flashed back towards my own 200 hours teacher training 10 years ago. I could remember, half way through my training one of my fellow TTC mate came to me and said “I have been observing you and I know you are not up to the standard to take this TTC, I knew it from the posture you perform”.

For years thereafter, even after I had my own centre, I could not bring myself out as a teacher and practically teaching a class. Somehow, those who are “up to the standard” are the ones with gifted flexibility. I was not.

Recently when I went through the pictures of my son during his early years, I found this. A perfect version of downward facing dog without the need to give any alignment cue.

zen dog

And it was perfect the way he sits and squat.

zen squat   zen seat

Those were the good old days when everything was perfect. 4 years thereafter, it looks like this.

zen now

And that matches his sitting position.

zen round sit

There is a famous riddles of Sphinx: what is it that has one voice and yet become four-footed and two footed and three footed?

The answer is human being, who crawls on all fours in infancy, walks on two legs in adulthood and leans on a cane in old age.

Almost everyone when we grow older changes from straight to bend over.

Is there a source of all our tension?

A source where psychologically we change through life. If you observe it all over the world, it evolves the same pattern. We start live straight. Everything functions everything moves, we are sensitive just when you are children.

So when we did start to bend, ninety percent of mankind, started to bend forward from the source, the area in between the shoulder blades. So from the front, it pulls the heart region in. The area in between the shoulder blades is the source of all our tension.

Therefore, it was inaccurate for my ex-TTC mate to conclude that I was not “up to the standard”. Instead she should have said that “you are a victim of tension”.

We all know head forward, shoulders rounded and back slumped is the culprit to all common aches and pains now. Every therapy in the world aims towards aligning head on top of the spine. It is an accepted fact, if your head isn’t balanced correctly on the top of your spine, it’s putting 7kg of unwanted burden on your neck muscles.

To correct the misalignment, many therapy such as Alexander Technique, Mckenzie and treatment such as Atlas Profilax work at manually correcting the misalignment of the head to position the head on top of the spine.


Meanwhile, in the world of Yoga, teachers continuously giving alignment instructions in the class to counteract the misalignment of the head. It changes nothing because most of our faulty habits felt right by virtue of our long familiarity whereas improved posture felt wrong because of its unfamiliarity. So it makes sense when Gert said “Don’t listen to your body” and that’s when everyone laughed.

There has been a lot of study and teachings mainly by posture expert and Yoga and Pilates practitioners on the topic of posture alignment and how to maintain good posture. We all know the problem of postural malformation but none of them offer an effective solutions to all the posture issues in the world today. Even those Yoga styles who claim to be better versed in alignment may not realize that continuously instructing “keep your head neck spine straight” is not useful. Further requiring students to keep the gaze point up in trikonasana in fact do more harm than good.

Critical Alignment Yoga & Therapy (CAY/T) exercises aimed to give external pressure into the source of our tension so that we start to feel that area again. Once you could feel that area, you can give direction to that specific area then real lengthening in the spine can take place.

Otherwise, without feeling, there is no ability for direction. And when there is no movement in the upper back, the head could not be placed on top of the spine. Only when the area in between the shoulder blades could produce movement, you are able to neutralise the structural tension in the body and that is when the upper back could receive movement of the head. As Gert correctly put it “when you cannot place the head on top of the spine, you push the spine underneath the head”.


bend spine Picture1straight spine

I am blessed to have live long enough to learned this.”What a relief.”

One thought on ““Keep your head neck spine, straight”.

  1. Michelle, your article is a great work. They give me a great deal of inspiration. I’m always looking forward it.

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