Free Download! Common Yoga Mistakes: Understanding the Law of Compensation

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Susi Hately

Susi Hately Susi Hately is the owner and principal instructor of Functional Synergy Inc. She started yoga in 1995 after becoming frustrated with her recurring injuries as a teenage athlete. She credits yoga with getting her back running. Having experienced the benefits of yoga, she began showing her...

There is a lot of focus in yoga on creating proper alignment in yoga poses. However, instead of focusing on correcting misalignments, what we really should be focusing on are the issues that precede misalignment, says Canadian yoga therapist Susi Hately in this free download.

At the root of most misalignment lies the law of compensation, Susi notes. I.e., the body will always take the path of least resistance to accomplish a movement. So if there is stiffness in a joint or muscle, the body will transfer the movement to the closest, more mobile joint.

Taking the example of hip openers, one of the most common mistake students make is to take the movement into the low back, Susi notes. If the leg bone doesn’t move as needed in the hip opening, the pelvis can go into an anterior tilt. This compensation may help us get into the pose, but in the long run, it becomes a problem and can cause low back problems.

In order to address this problem, Susi explains, we need a new approach to yoga teaching methodology. Instead of looking at the end point, i.e. being in the pose, we need to look at how to move into the pose to avoid compensations before they arise.

Correcting alignment once we are unaligned is not very productive. The time to make that correction is before you go into the pose, not once you’re there, Susi notes.

It’s important to learn to clean up some of the mechanical patterns that don’t serve us. Otherwise, small shifts can change how the force of gravity moves through the entire body, potentially causing structural issues or compensations in other parts of the body.

Also check out Susi's course on YogaUOnline: Bridging the Alignment Gap: Exploring Compensation Patterns in Yoga