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In a crooked world – align, adjust and accommodate

“Adapt, adjust, accommodate – this is the highest Yoga”

Swami Sivananda (1887-1963)

Many years ago, I was spending some time at Sivananda Yoga Ashram in the jungle of Kerala, India. I was a psychology student, and I did my data collection there, interviewing yogis and yoga practitioners. I witnessed a magical process of surrender to the simplicity of life in this jungle ashram. Westerners would come with big suitcases, medicine boxes, creams, gadgets, and all kinds of accessories. After a few days, they would pack most of the stuff away. I saw them washing their clothes by hand, washing their dishes, sweeping the floor, taking silent walks, and taking naps in the afternoons on outdoor madras, under the trees. After a week, everyone would be walking bare feet, getting up at 5 am, happily. We had only 2 meals a day, a simple rhythm of some work, some rest, some yoga, some pranayama, then work again. We heard crocodile splash in the morning while meditating (for real!). We heard tigers in the afternoon and had to be mindful of cobra snakes on the way to the yoga shala. But smiles were everywhere. There was no fear. What to fear while being One? Everybody was alive.

This is an example of how the environment helps us to find alignment within. With simple day rhythms and rituals, the body, and mind after initial resistance start to trust and melt into such a pleasant dance. Adjusting to a healthy environment promotes healing, and integration, and creates inner peace for further growth and development.

Now, the situation is different back home, when we are busy with lives, traffic, responsibilities, bills, projects, relationships, and mobile phones, and are not surrounded by the beauty of an Indian jungle. It seems more difficult to un-stuck ourselves from the often toxic rhythms of modern lifestyle leading to stress and anxiety.

Swami Sivananda has this well-known saying “Adapt, adjust, accommodate – this is the highest Yoga”. This does not mean accepting any odd situation, or unhealthy environment, or accepting misalignments of a crooked world. It means to find that flow of harmony even in adversity. To free oneself from separation in adverse situations, where likes and dislikes push and pull us in opposite directions. There is no peace then. So what do we do?

The more environment is disharmonious, the more we put an effort to settle within, integrate experiences, accept what we cannot change, patiently change what we can, adapt like water through any streams and landscapes, and keep on flowing with life through our body, mind, and spirit. The moment we feel stuck and powerless is the moment the life force in us cannot find the way through (adversity, pain, duality, circumstance, or a difficult yoga pose). With patience, breath-directing slow movement, we will find the way. Our own, unique, fabulous, wise, and mystical way.

This is what we can practice on the mat. Yoga alignment often refers to the proper positioning of the body in yoga poses to maximize its benefits and minimize the risk of injury. But good alignment and adjustments in yoga practice have a higher purpose and meaning than just a simple manual adjustment to perfect the yoga pose. Alignment is about integrating and finding the way. It is about deeper awareness, listening to the moment, body, breath, and thoughts, deeply connected to sacred geometry and the sacredness of the world. It is training how to adapt to a new form, finding the flow through, no matter how the form looks like.

Adjustments from a teacher are the navigating force that facilitates your energy to move in the direction of harmony, through the pose (asana) and with the life force (prana). Have you ever got a wonderful adjustment from a skillful teacher, and everything just clicked to a blissful “a-ha” feeling? Where did you feel you have reached your destination? This is the moment when your own intelligence cooperated, surrendered, and found the way through the practice to reach that space of deeper awareness. The yoga teacher is then a precious facilitator of energy flow.

An experienced teacher will tell you that adjusting in the class requires total dedication, purity of intention, and inner emotional stability so one is guided by the underlying intelligence of the movement and the sacredness of the moment. My own experience is that if my mind is not empty and intelligence is not moving my hands and body while adjusting, I better not do it. To offer adjustment means to offer one full Self. Otherwise, it simply does not work, it does not move the deeper intelligence of the giver-receiver dance, and adjustment stays trapped in the mechanical layer without deeper healing and moving power.

If we trust some of the eastern philosophies, everything in this universe is interconnected. There are underlying laws and principles that interconnect the body, mind, spirit, and world. Alignment in everyday life and especially through yoga practice is the way to transform reality by moving the world in direction of harmony. And yes, the world will resist, but you just persist. You are not looking for results, you are simply looking and witnessing how your energy and the energy of the world are interconnected.

Here are some tips on how to adapt, adjust and accommodate, and find with this deeper awareness within and more peace with the world.

Daily sacred rituals

Create daily repetitive rituals that connect you to wholesomeness. This can be reading one poem per day, journaling in the evening, having your healthy tea ritual, self-massage, cold shower, burning incense, praying, forest walks, etc.

Aligning and adjusting body

The body will always like to fall into inertia and sluggishness that ultimately feels bad. A regular daily practice that brings more flow and alertness to the body helps us to feel attuned with inner intelligence, and intuition, and we notice different, more positive cues in our life and environment

Create blocks of time for phone usage

There are some people and whole movements that are choosing 100% offline life. It is doable. It is another world and reality to live in. Know that exists. In the meantime, use the phone in blocks of time, not compulsively. Start the day offline at least the first hour in the morning and finish the day offline at least an hour before bedtime.

Align with the daily and monthly rhythm of the nature

Follow the waking up and going to bed as close as possible to sunrise and sunset times.

Meditate morning and evening for at least 20 minutes. Follow the moon circle, and seasons for choice of your activities, food, etc, for example eating what nature provides at that season month

Inner alignment

Be a witness to your inner alignments and misalignments. Notice how certain situations and circumstances during the day make you feel in the body and mind, and how can you adapt. What can you change to find more ease and flow of life in different situations? How to live without resistance, do you resist the moment? Become a silent warrior always ready to change the inner energy course, finding the way, making the impossible possible. Became a formless form, always adapting and thriving in any life situation.

In deep alignment is where we all truly meet - and I flow to you, and you to me, in Oneness dance.

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Shivam Agrawal
Shivam Agrawal
Oct 04, 2023

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