Why Hitting the Wall is a Good Idea

in How to Build a Practice,Standing Poses,Yoga Props

Among beginning yoga students, one of the most difficult props to acquire is a yoga wall, wide enough to spread your arms out wide without hitting anything, and blank.
Most walls are already in use. Couches rest against them, pictures hang from them. And if your living space is small, the need to sit down on something definitely trumps a wall left blank for practice.
Yet if I had to pick just one prop for my practice, it would come down to a choice between a mat and a wall.

A precious yoga prop - the blank wall

A precious yoga prop - the blank wall

With a wall, you can relax in legs-up-the-wall pose, and if you have a bolster, in viparita karani, with the bolster under your waist. You can use a wall to help refine your alignment in shoulder stand, to learn balance in headstand, to support your back in a squat, to provide gentle leverage for a seated twist.
Best of all, you can use a wall to clarify and support your standing poses.
With your back to the wall you can take a truly wide stride without worrying about your balance. You can feel where you are in space. You’ll know if your front leg buttock is resting on the wall, which means your weight is dropping back from the line of the pose. You can fine-tune your alignment. And you can do all of it with less effort.
The poses can be quieter, less about survival and more about curiosity. You have more time to turn your attention to the work of the pose, to explore, to work on the instructions you remember from class, and eventually, to feel the delight of the pose.
When you clear a space, something else happens. A blank wall is a declaration of intent, an invitation to your practice. It clears a space in your mind as well as a space in your house.

What if it’s just not possible? What if your living space is just too tight? Then it’s time to turn to the kitchen counter. You may not be able to use it to practice shoulderstand, but it will work just fine for supporting the standing poses.
Last week in the level one classes, we worked with “dropping a block” – not just in Triangle pose, but in Warrior II and Extended Side Angle. Check it out and let me know how it works for you.

If you liked this post you might also like:

Loose Your Counterbalance in Halfmoon pose at the Wall

Take Rotated Triangle Pose to the Wall

Drop a block to tune your triangle pose

 

{ 5 comments }

Charlottte March 16, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Dear Eve,

I just discovered your blog today ! Thank you for sharing your love and understanding of yoga.
As I am not attending classes these days, I really appreciate the tips and reminder. Bless you ,
Charlotte

Eve March 22, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Charlotte,
It’s great to hear from you! I’m glad you like the blog. Are you still working on dropping back from Tadasana into Urdhva Dhanurasana?
I made one small stitch today, using a wall rope at my pelvis for support. Kind of scary. I guess there’s still a ways to go.

Gilian Dusting February 11, 2010 at 1:10 pm

One of the best things about a bit of dedicated wall space is finding it at the end of a long day. It’s great to lie on your back, put your legs up the wall and let the cares of the day wash away into the floor.

I have also liked using the wall for help on difficult poses. In past yoga classes we have used the wall for guidance on the twists like parvrtta trikonasana (reverse triangle). But I forget how best to make it work. Do you have any tips?

admin February 11, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Gil, thanks for the question! Rotated triangle is one of my favorite poses to take to the wall, and yes, I do have a tip. I’ll post it as soon as I get a chance.

Brenda Lea February 4, 2010 at 5:57 pm

It’s true. For along time I had only a short hallway to practice in, the wall possessed by a bureau. But moving brought a wider, longer corridor with a garage-size sliding door right in the middle. Something about this expanse being a door not a wall keeps us from covering it with anything but paint. As a result, it invites me to all the poses you mention in your post, much to my benefit of course. Thanks for starting this blog.

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