Mental and Physical tension
Stress is a natural phenomena. But if under too much stress, the body reacts less efficient and the stress settles in your body as muscle tension. This blocks the natural movement of the joints and can even change the shape of the skeleton. It makes your body feel less open, free and pleasant. On the long term it can even lead to back and neck problems.
Becoming aware of movement patterns and letting go of tension
Critical Alignment asks the student for constant inquiry into the body and has clever ways of making tension and stiffness tangible. You gain more and more insight into your movement and behavioral patterns. The yoga asanas are designed in such a way that when you relax into them, the tension in the body eases. You will slowly be able to let go of the (movement) patterns that no longer serve you and regain your flexibility. At the same time you build up strength to support a more open posture.
Critical Alignment distinguishes two kinds of muscle tissue. The larger, more superficial movement muscles which are strong, but also tire quickly. And the much smaller postural muscles which lie closer to the spine and are able to support your posture over longer periods of time. If the body looses its natural alignment, the movement muscles are forced to do what they are not made for: tense to hold you upright when you sit or stand. They become hard and less efficient and pull the body out of balance even more. Critical Alignment focuses on relaxing the movement muscles and bringing back the alignment in the body. The postural muscles can then reactivate. Chronic tension looses its grip and the body feels more free and light.
Founder of Critical Alignment is Gert van Leeuwen. You can find more information about Critical Alignment on his website.