From an exercise physiology perspective, I’ve realised the importance of understanding the body’s anatomy well for
1) Proper body alignment
2) Engagement of appropriate joints and muscles
I’ve personally found my most conscious practice of this applied during the Trikonasana and Virabhadrasana 1.
In Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), I focus on whether my hips were tilted sideways, with an extended spine, both heels on the same line, toes perpendicular to each other (90 degrees). It feels very much like a lateral stretch in various sports.
In contrast, hips in Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1 Pose) are squared to face the front, feet approximately shoulder width apart for balance, front knee bent to 90 degrees, front toes pointing forward, and back toes angled to point approximately 40 degrees to the side. As a result, the quads of the front leg and back foot are engaged in the act of balancing. This bears an extremely close resemblance to the kamae (stance) adopted by various schools of Aikido.
Indeed, a good understanding of body alignment helps one to ground yourself better in balance and engaging the correct muscles utilised while holding or transitioning in between the various Asanas.
The repetitive process of practice in yoga allows one to feel the engagement of these muscles and joints during practice to finally develop balance and graceful transitions with good control.
Through practice, I am constantly reminded of the importance to remain grounded, and constantly refine on good basics.
Aylwin Tan (200hr YTT, July 2017)