“Darn!” Actually, that’s a gross euphemism for the four-letter word really going through my head when I approach ‘that’ pose. You know the one – the pose that just pisses you off every time. The pose that makes you teeter off balance, shake in discomfort, lose Ujjayi breath altogether, and curse inwardly (or sometimes outwardly!).
‘That’ pose is the one we find sneaky ways to circumvent in class (you know what I’m talking about – taking a convenient water break or brushing the imaginary hair out of your face when the teacher calls the pose out, or modifying the pose beyond recognition). What’s worse, we skip ‘that’ pose altogether when practicing at home.
I do it too. Even as a teacher encouraging my own students to dig into the pose I know they hate, I occasionally hightail out of it in my own practice. But here is my plea: Stop doing that! Right now! Here’s why, and how:
1. That pose will bring up your junk, and help you ditch it for good.
All the frustration, anxiety, and physical discomfort are brought to the forefront when you are in ‘that’ pose. Sure, you could bail and say to hell with this. But that’s just a band-aid. Run from it now, and I promise it will be waiting for you at the next least opportune moment. It will certainly come up in the next class, but more importantly, it will come up in another facet of life, off the mat.
Spending time in the pose you hate will no doubt reveal what’s holding you back in life: a physical injury that needs to be addressed, a fear of confrontation that’s keeping you from asking for what you deserve, a lack of patience and inability to stay focused.
All are true for me, and the more time I spend in ‘that’ pose, the better equipped I am to get honest with myself and work toward positive transformation.
2. That pose will move you up the Badass meter higher than any other pose.
Often the first emotion to arise in ‘that’ pose is fear. What’s the opposite of fear? Courage! Aka badass-ery!
I have been practicing handstand for five years. FIVE YEARS. I still fall. I still curse. But every time I finish one, whether it was a stick or an ugly roll-out, I finish a little bit stronger; a little less afraid, and ready to take on whatever comes my way on and off the mat – a customer mistreating a barista (yes I say something), a stone-faced dentist telling me I need two new crowns pronto. Bring it on!
3. That pose is an opportunity to solicit help.
…And learn not to do everything by your lonesome. All of us have poses we thrive in, and others we suck at. Personal anatomy, genetics, past life experiences, and injuries – all factor in to our strengths and weaknesses in practice. I don’t know any yogi who masters every pose effortlessly (well, except maybe Sri Dharma Mittra).
So now is the time to ask a fellow yogi or teacher you know thrives in your hated pose to give you a hand. Get their ideas on how to enter and exit the pose, and learn what their experience has been with it. My lotus-is-comfortable-enough-to-fall-asleep-in pal has helped me open my stubborn hips a little more by teaching me some awesome breathing techniques. New perspective, new yogi pal. How cool is that?
4. That pose will get you seriously present.
Think about it. That pose you loathe gets your attention, fast. And thus, brings you to the present. I once fell asleep in Child’s Pose, a pose I love. Yep, drifted off into la la land. Poses I love require extra work to stay present. Poses I hate get me there immediately.
And THAT’s why we practice – to get present! Now there’s one solid reason to love ‘that’ pose you hate!