Most of the first years of your yoga practice will be about learning how to do the basic postures or asanas. Starting with Mountain pose (Tadasana) and progressing onward into standing and sitting poses, twists, forward and backward bends, inversions, balancing poses, etc. At some point, one of your teachers is then going to tell you to begin to move not just from your muscles, but to begin to identify and use the lines of energy in these postures. This day will be when you start to feel the poses from your body’s intelligence, rather than just on a mechanical muscular level.
In addition to the system of our blood flowing within our body, we have the electrical system that directs currents of energy throughout us. In Traditional Chinese Medicine these lines of energy are called meridians, in Ayurveda, they are called nadis. Most people do not have much awareness of these lines, though through your yoga practice, they become easier and easier to contact. It is not necessary to be able to feel all of them (and may be near impossible to do so as Ayurveda mentions 72,000 of them!), however, when you begin to find the two or three main lines of energy in each pose, your mind becomes clearer, and your body becomes stronger. You will find yourself doing yoga from the inside out, and the focus you bring to your poses will follow you off your mat as well. In staff pose (Dandasana) we can clearly see these lines of energy. As the body sits and grounds in position (like the capital letter L), it allows the energy to flow out the legs and up through the arms. In your practice, begin to play with these lines by thinking of pairs of opposites. For example, when you are in a standing pose, feel where your body is grounding down and where it is lifting up.
Using lines of energy to enhance your yoga practice can bring about a better alignment for you particular body, because it will be working from its inner wisdom. You will be more stable in your poses, as well as engage your whole body in the practice. Using specific manners of breathing, or pranayama, during your practice, will also increase the flow of energy along these lines. Erich Schiffman writes, “As you assume each individual posture and deliberately funnel your energy and breath through the pose, you are in effect cleaning the tubes and airing out the pathways that distribute the life force.” You may find that this additional energy, focus, and stability will also help keep your body moving to ever deeper levels of these postures.