One of my Elder Dancers said the funniest thing the other day. She muttered it under her breath, and there is plenty of room to make jokes about what she said, but it also contained deep wisdom about the body.
We had just finished dancing to a slower piece of music and we were discussing something about alignment. We were turning away from each other to move onto the next piece, and I heard this:
"The saints didn't cross their legs either and they had such a closeness to God!"
Like I said, plenty of room in there for some fun jokes, but the wisdom!
First, most of those saints barely spent any time sitting. People didn't have time to sit! They were busy doing important things like growing food, getting water, building shelter...you know, SURVIVING. And when people sat, they spent more time sitting on the floor, strengthening muscles rather than weakening them in soft chairs.
Second, when they did find time to sit, as my elder dancer pointed out, they didn't cross their damn legs out of of some false sense of modesty and being "lady like."
The way we STAND as women is also related to this. Notice that you tend to stand with your feet very close together (they even do this in yoga classes -- GRRRRRRRR...). This weakens all kinds of stuff that this post is not about, but let me just say, getting those feet hip width is important to the health of your WHOLE BODY.
Back aches? I will say three things: sitting, wearing heels, having your feet too close together.
Okay...so let's just move on from KNOWING that crossing your legs is a bad idea on the physical level.
What the heck does this have to do with spirituality?
When we are in constant pain, as so many of us are, we are not really IN the body as much as we are just noticing that the body is in pain.
When we are out of alignment, we are disconnected from most of the messages that the body is now blocked from sending.
When we are disconnected from the body, we are disconnected from the spirit.
You cannot grow spiritually if you are disconnected from that spirit's vehicle.
(Hey! This also puts all of the sit, stand, kneel, sit, stand, kneel of a Catholic mass in a different light, doesn't it?! It's, like, GOOD FOR YOU.)
So...any yoga teacher or just...PERSON...who thinks biomechanical alignment is watering down the spiritual side of their practice is actually full of shit and not-knowing and you should run the other way.
Biomechanical alignment of the body is the very first step necessary to a deeper spiritual experience of YOU.