I hope I’m not alone in saying that I have a pose that I hate! There is one (or to be honest, sometimes several) pose that I just can’t stand, and when we get to a part where that particular pose could be called, I’m thinking, “Please not <insert hated pose name here>! Please not <insert hated pose name here>!” Then if it gets called, all I can think is “shit!”
(Just to be clear here, I’m talking about poses that you resist. If there’s a pose that doesn’t work in your body because of an injury or the pose just feels really bad when you do it, talk to a teacher to find an option or modification that works for you.)
As a beginner yogi, there were lots of poses I hated. And they were easy to identify. I hated any pose that I couldn’t do easily. So let’s see, which poses did I like? Well, child’s pose was good. Downward dog was ok too because I couldn’t really see how others were doing and really, how hard is it to make an upside down V with your body? Mountain pose was good too. But it went downhill from there. Warrior 1? I felt wobbly and my thigh burned and other people were way lower than me. So warrior 1 = hate. High to low pushup? Double hate because a) I couldn’t do it, and b) I could see other people doing it with ease. The only pose I actually liked was triangle, because it looks and feels elegant to me. And savasana. But even that was kind of a mixed bag because I had a lot of things to do, and who has time to just lie there and do nothing?
With all this hatred, you may ask, why did I bother to come back? I came back because even with all my ineptness and frustration, I felt amazing after each class.
As time went on, the list of poses I liked grew longer. How did this happen? First I started coming to yoga regularly (like 3 or 4 times a week, as opposed to once a week). With a regular practice I was able to build strength. And with regular instruction I was able to really listen to my teachers when they gave cues to improve whatever pose we were in. Also having a regular practice started to quiet my comparing mind, so instead of seeing someone else practicing with ease (or, god forbid, in an advanced version of a pose) and thinking “why do I suck?” I would think “that’s beautiful” and return to my drishti (focus point) and return my attention to my own practice.
I really do have a pose I hate currently. Wanna know what it is? It’s standing leg raise. You know, the stupid one where you lift your leg, grab your knee, then bring it out to the side and look off in the other direction. I struggle with pressing my entire foot down on the mat (broken toes on both feet a various points in life have something to do with this), and in this pose I fall out. A lot. And anyone who’s behind me can see me falling out. My ego hates that.
(Oh, there’s one other pose I hate: locust. Why? Because it feels so hard but it seems like you’re basically doing nothing. Again, my ego hates that.)
Recently I’ve started to look at the poses I resist in a new way. A semi-grown up way! The poses I resist are (wait for it) the ones where the most growth is possible. Changing how I think about these poses changes everything. I may never love standing leg raise, but yoga doesn’t ask me to love every pose. In yoga I’m asked to come to my mat and do the work. And although it’s possible that from now until the end of time I will always fall out of standing leg raise, if I can do that with a calm steady mind, well that will be proof that yoga, as always, works!
See you on the mat!