Any alignment cue can be hurtful when given to the wrong student. I spent years studying with LAs best teachers many of whom were extremely adamant about alignment… and then the science evolved and the things that I was trained to do I had to unlearn... It happened so many times over the years.
Science is always changing as we discover new information. Plus the full implication of the things that scientists learn will never be known.
As a teacher I’ve created a “be an adult”- that is listen to your body and don’t hurt yourself, sort of approach to alignment. I use cues that makes sense in context of the peak pose but I also make sure to remind my students: “you have to respect your body’s signals above my cueing. And if you can’t hear your body’s signals, now is the time to start paying attention.” Yoga is a personal practice and as much as I can study the body I will never really know what is means to be in my student's body. For newer students I elaborate: “biting, sharp pain typically is not good, pain in the joints -also not so good. But if you are experiencing dull achy pain, even if it is intense, you should be okay. But again practice your instincts above all else! ”
When given permission to do things their own way, very rarely will students push too hard. When you entrust your students to take care of themselves most often they will rise to the challenge. We aren’t teaching our students to worship our knowledge, we are teaching them to get more in touch with their own instincts.
We live in a world that favors popular data and intellectual information. Encouraging your students to discover the world on their own terms is invaluable. They will make mistakes. I will make mistakes. You will make mistakes. We are human; mistakes are our privilege. All we can do is try to assess where we went wrong and then we make the best of what is in front of us. From there we continue to shine brighter and brighter!