John Friend tells us in teacher trainings that when we are observing students, start at the foundation. In order to help a student have the highest, most joyous and expansive experience in a pose, the foundation must be secure, aligned, and basically in the correct form. If the student does not already have a steady and aligned foundation, adjustments to other aspects of the pose will not well serve growth and understanding. When we are practicing on our own, starting with the foundation is also critical. If we do not make sure that we have the physical, energetic, and mental understanding of a pose, at best, we will have little appreciation for our practice and, at worst, risk injury.
Off the mat, the principle of starting with the foundation is even more important. If we do not teach all of our children basic reading, math, history, and civics, how can we have a functional democracy? If a house does not have a sturdy, well-built foundation, what is the point in spending lots of money decorating it? If we do not plant a seedling at a depth where it can be properly rooted and supported, how can it best flower and give fruit? If we do not provide all with adequate shelter, feed ourselves in a way that fosters both the environment and natural health, build an infrastructure that makes drinking water and breathable air for all, and have proper respect for the process of dying, how much true health care can come from privatized insurance, however regulated?