Positioning & body proportions

I’m wondering how universal body proportions are for positioning in some poses.

In poses like dolphin, I’ve seen it suggested we place our shoulders at a distance by “measuring” with our forearm (grasp elbow with opposite hand at 90 degrees). What if shoulders are wider than that distance, such as for men? Even for me, a broad-shoulder female, that feels too narrow. Or am I just inflexible there?

For standing at “hip stance” I’ve seen it suggested we place a fist between our feet. WAY too narrow for me, with broad hips also!

Has anyone else felt awkward following these body positioning guidelines? How can I assess proper alignment but still honor my own body proportions?

These cues are of course generalizations, and based on the principals of common proportion estimates for most bodies. That being said we all have a unique structure and are looking to evolve our experience and abilities. To evolve or grow you start where your current capacity is and move on from there. Listen to your body and start where it feels right, then narrow the foundations later if that feels right for you.

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I love this question! I think it’s important, both from developing our own inner sense of alignment as well as taking in external cues to refine that alignment.

I’m in the DYWM Yoga Teacher Training program and I really enjoyed Rachel Scott’s explanations for foundational alignment with our hands and feet. Maybe her Fundamentals of Practice series would be insightful (it certainly was for me). There are also some short classes along the lines of “what Tadasana can teach us about our bodies” and ^Fiji’s classes always teach me a thing or two about my postural habits!

I’ve also learned when to pass by certain cues. I have several hip and back injuries, so I bless and release some twisting and backbend cues.


Thanks! I’m trained in vertebrate anatomy so I take these cues quite literally! I’ve tried making stick drawings to see if these proportions are all that universal: consider 2 people of same height, but one has a much wider shoulder girdle. Unless the wider shoulder person also has much longer arms (hang to knees rather than mid-thigh), the forearm distance will be too short to measure shoulder placement for dolphin, for instance.

So, I guess what I really need to learn now is what the sensations are for proper alignment. And this is one of the many reasons I love yoga and DYWM: awareness :slight_smile:

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