Saturday, April 30, 2011

Practicing the Poses We "Hate"

 Don't Shy Away From Difficult Poses!

I enjoy most of the yoga poses that I work on, but there are a few poses that I really, really don't like.  I hesitate to use the word "hate", but I do have a very strong negative reaction to a couple of poses in particular.  But some of the poses I used to "hate" I now enjoy, or at least don't mind practicing.

My least favorite pose is Virabhadrasana III, or Warrior Pose III.  My balance is often "iffy" to begin with, and the particular shape of this pose makes it even more difficult for me to hold for any length of time, given that my shoulders and upper back are on the stiff side and my low back is a little too mobile, and my arms somewhat weak in this extension.  But one of my students says this is her favorite pose!

Watch the following video to see how steady and beautiful this pose can be when practiced regularly!

Other poses that I used to "hate" are Paripurna navasana (full boat pose) and some of the seated forward bends, including Janu sirsasana (head to knee pose).   Now seated forward bends are among my favorite poses, and the boat poses don't give me much trouble either.  But it took diligent, mindful practice over an extended period of time to get there.    Hmmm.   I guess I need to work that way on Virabhadrasana III!

What is the pose that you "hate" or dislike most?   Why do you dislike it?
I'm guessing that the poses that we least like are those that are difficult or impossible for us to do.
But do you dislike all poses that are difficult for you?  (Hopefully not!)
What makes this pose especially unlovable for you? 
What are you doing to work through this dislike?
Are you practicing this pose in between classes, or are you avoiding it?

Can you think of ways to start to "make friends" with this pose?
Are there similar, but easier poses for you that might help you build up to your least favorite pose?

One suggestion is to decide to practice this pose 3 times a week, and sandwich it in between other poses that you can do more easily and that have some similarities with the pose that you dislike.  You may decide to work on an easier variation of the pose for awhile.   But then periodically try the full variation from time to time.  

You will not make friends with this pose or have it come easier if you do not practice it.  You know this.   Decide that you want to work on this pose, then do it.  Make a plan.  I can suggest ways to work on it (or your own teacher can help you).

These difficult, disliked poses will teach us more about ourselves if we work on them.  But avoiding them won't get us anywhere.  Don't shy away from the work it takes to improve your least favorite poses.   Even if they remain difficult, or not possible to do, you'll still be improving your practice overall, and gaining invaluable insights into your own self.

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