So you’ve already looked around, noticed that other people enjoy poses you hate, and accepted the possibility that you might come to like those poses too.
You’ve gazed deep into the eyes of your least favorite poses, and recognized them as your own tailored assignments from life, superbly structured to teach you whatever it is that you most need to know.
What then? What strategies work when you take those poses to the mat?
Here are a few that have worked for me.
Break the pose down and work with the pieces.
Suppose that, like most of us, you struggle with Warrior III, in which you balance on one leg, stretching forward through your hands and back through your raised leg, like
a human uppercase T with an extra-long cross bar.
Your standing leg hip and hamstrings need to be both flexible and strong.
You need strong core muscles to maintain the length in your lower back, strong triceps to help stretch your chest forward, a mobile thoracic spine, awareness enough to level your front hip bones so they face the floor, and, with all of that, enough stability to remain standing.
Instead of pushing yourself into Warrior III in every practice, work with its
parts. Find poses that open your hips and both lengthen and strengthen your hamstrings. Practice keeping your bungee cord connected in every pose. And work to build the strength in your arms. That could be as simple as keeping your triceps active while you hold Warrior II.
Back up and work with a preparation.
In Warrior III, for example, remove the balance issue by working with your hands at the wall. Focus on keeping your pelvis balanced, and the work in your legs strong.
To focus on the core work, put your hands on a chair seat. Then identify the feeling of moving the back rim of your pelvis toward your buttocks – or your pubic bone toward your navel – to stabilize your lumbar spine.
Move into the pose slowly.
In a power yoga class I took in Seattle, Eric, the pony-tailed instructor, used to intone: “Going into the pose is the guru. Staying in the pose is the guru. Coming out of the pose is the guru.”
But not all gurus are created equal. If you don’t connect with the going-in guru, you’re unlikely to ever meet the other two.
Notice the sticking points, the spots you feel tempted to rush past in order to
“be in the pose.” Instead of moving on, be aware of the moment when you first feel challenged by the pose, and stay there, working your edge, until your edge moves.
Benefits: When you analyze poses to find out which preparations and partial poses are useful, you will learn more about how poses relate to each other. You’ll become a mature student, able to work well even in the poses you don’t like.
Sequence: Put the preparations first, and then try your difficult poses.
Ouch: Change takes time. Learn to be content with just a little progress. Remind yourself that as long as you’re practicing, you’re headed in the right direction.