The main principle of CAY is the emphasis on relaxation before movement. In the first part of class, attention is given to releasing muscle tension around the spine, hips or shoulders. Tension often mounts in these areas. Sometimes this build-up of tension goes unnoticed, but some people experience back pain, stress, or tiredness caused by tension.
During passive relaxation exercises using tools designed for Critical Alignment Yoga you learn what it feels like to release tension in your back, hips and shoulders. While these passive exercises increase your mental and physical relaxation, body and posture awareness is heightened. So that in the next phase, flexibility and strength can be improved by working from a state of relaxation. This is achieved by practicing yoga poses such as downward dog, chair pose, and warrior pose.
Because of this meticulous approach, your body will signal at each step whether you feel free to move further into a pose or if you meet resistance. Continually working with your breath and awareness for relaxing the areas particularly susceptible to the build-up of tension, Critical Alignment yoga can help you change habitually bad posture and other tension related issues.
This video can explain the benefits of Critical Alignment Yoga from my perspective:
For more information the Critical Alignment Yoga and Therapy site is in English and Dutch www.criticalalignmentyoga.nl
Gert van Leeuwen
The founder of Critical Alignment Yoga, Gert van Leeuwen, comes from Amsterdam. He developed this method through years of research starting when he was an Iyengar Yoga teacher. He observed his students, many of them dancers, who suffered from injuries and spinal instability. He found that yoga did not address all of their physical pain, discomfort, or limitations, and sometimes exacerbated it. He looked to ancient yoga scriptures, many modern physical therapies, psychology, and his students, to find out how yoga can be used not only to promote feelings of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, but also heal physical injuries and limitations.
The result is Critical Alignment Yoga offered in yoga and therapy form. It attracts not only dancers but people with RSI, neck and shoulder complaints from hours of sitting behind the computer, and lower back hernias from habitually poor posture. Through regular practice, Critical Alignment Yoga can change physical posture, habitual movement preferences and behavioural patterns.