Students will often ask me what is the “right way” to do a pose. My answer is often, “It depends.” From my perspective, the expression of any asana is fundamentally as unique as the human body itself. Your body has its very own expression of the asana, which can look and feel different on any given day (by the minute) depending on factors related to your physical, emotional and psychological state.
Your expression is unique to not only your own body, but it exists singularly within the present moment alone. When you decide on which variation to chose and how to land it, consider the intention of your practice. What is the tone you’re trying to cultivate? Part of your alignment includes what I’d describe as the vibrational frequency of the pose (ie, relaxed and low key, intense and strength building)? What do you want to do with the pose? What do you prefer? YES. It’s your pose, your body, your practice, what do you want it to feel like?!
Every practice is a fresh opportunity to create a new experience within the pose, or return to a familiar favourite. The nuances of the pose are like the personal details of your expression. As long as it feels good, you’re practicing with awareness and a consideration of basic anatomical alignment principles, you’re doing the pose “the right way.”
For example, many practitioners will press the back of their hand into the top knee in Bharadvajasana; this is not only a gesture of openness from the centre of the palm but it welcomes external rotation in the shoulder. On occasion, however, I will press the palm into my top knee as a way to leverage a deeper twist, something that feels really nice for my spine…. and I just like the feeling of a big palmful of knee, I dunno — I just do. :)