I’m not all that fond of arm balances. Honestly, I could do without the whole category of poses altogether.
Koundiyanasana II, for instance, has been a thorn in my side for the past decade of practice. I still can’t do it. I could give a million reasons why this is (I’m six feet tall, my legs are too long, I’m too flexible, I’m not a gymnast), but the hardcore truth is that I don’t practice the pose.
Sure if it happens to pop in a class, I may attempt it, but I’ve never really “gone after” arm balances the way I’ve gone for the whole gamut of backbends and heart openers.
Why We Prefer Certain Yoga Poses and Dislike Others
My body was made for backbends; I have incredible spinal extension and an open thoracic spine. Not to toot my own horn here, but we all have poses (or groups of poses) that we are good at, that come more naturally to our build, and we all have poses (or groups of poses) we struggle with.
You may rock arm balances from the get go and utterly hate backbends. You may struggle in Plank Pose but find peace in Pigeon, while the person next to you breezes through Chaturanga but sweats buckets holding a hip opener. You never know, and the point is, you shouldn’t compare yourself with others.
Allow yourself to feel good about (not better than) the yoga poses you do well, and continue to work on those you don’t. Practice the poses you love, and practice the poses you don’t.
Yoga is the process of becoming whole, of accepting our whole selves, flaws and all, and embracing all parts of life—the good and bad, beautiful and ugly. Here are five legit reasons to keep practicing the yoga poses you think you hate.
1. It keeps you humble.
There’s humility in the struggle. Only practice the poses that come easy, and you will never know the feeling. Not only does it keep you humble, struggling through the poses you’re not so great at gives you appreciation for those things that your body does do well.
2. It teaches you compassion.
Struggling on some level is a shared human experience. Knowing what it’s like to struggle with something increases your compassion for all beings everywhere who are struggling.
What’s more, practicing the yoga poses you have difficulty with teaches you that it’s okay not to be perfect. You don’t have to be the best at everything you do—trying is enough. Learning to access compassion for ourselves is one of the greatest gifts of yoga.
3. It lets you practice how you would face adversity in real life.
When we are forced to practice poses we don’t necessarily like, all sorts of emotions, old patterns, and limiting beliefs will inevitably arise. Yoga isn’t about not becoming frustrated or angry or sad; yoga is what you do with your frustration, anger, or sadness.
Yoga is your chance to work it all out on the mat, to practice how you would handle adversity, so that you have the tools, courage, and knowhow to face adversity off the mat.
4. It pushes you out of your comfort zone.
Yoga is the practice of transformation—no one made big changes being comfortable. Pushing yourself to practice the poses that make you uncomfortable creates an undeniable shift physically, emotionally, and psychically.
5. You might surprise yourself.
Keep practicing your least favorite yoga poses and you may find that suddenly, everything shifts. You might find that you have grown to love poses you once hated, or that poses that once seemed impossible are now completely accessibly, shattering your self-limiting beliefs.
Think about theyoga poses you just don’t like, and pick one. Commit to practicing that pose at least three times a week. Go after it! Allow the desire to attain the pose to fuel your practice, but remember that in the end, it isn’t the poses we’re after but radical self-acceptance.