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.
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.
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