Many people feel intimidated by yoga because they feel as though they feel inflexible and worry they can’t do all the poses. I have been doing yoga for years and I can’t do all the poses like the Instagram yogis and sometimes I feel a bit self conscious.
We all may look different in a pose, even with the same instructions. Inherently, our bones are shaped slightly differently, our muscles have different elasticity, and we are different heights. You can’t get the pose wrong as long as you are doing it safely.
The essence of yoga is connect with yourself through calming the mind and body/breath awareness. How yoga works for each person is their individual preference: Some people want to calm down and stretch their sore muscles. Some want to reach spiritual enlightenment. And there are many shades in between.
Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras as guidelines for a more purposeful life. The sutras say that there are 8 limbs (ashtanga=8 limbs) consisting of:
- Moral disciplines = be nice
- Positive observances = how can I be a better person?
- Asanas (poses) = what we do in our yoga class
- Pranayama (breathing) = what you do all the time, I hope
- Sense withdrawl = close your eyes
- Concentration = how you stay up in tree pose (you fall over when you start thinking)
- Meditation = let go of the thoughts
- Enlightenment = when you learn that a “century” means “100 runs” at your sons cricket match (which was an embarrassing enlightening moment because I do know that century means 100 – I digress.)
My point is that out of the 8 things listed, only ONE refers to poses. So, when you see more experienced yoga students turning themselves into a pancake or pretzel, remember that they may doing some of these other limbs too and aren’t even looking at you struggling to touch your toes.
So, I tried to demonstrate Urdhva Danurasana (wheel pose) in class last week. It was a failure (not great as a teacher). I practice yoga almost every day (even for 10 mins) and I have strong upper body strength. For the life of me, I cannot make my wheel look like Tim’s. Get him some tighter lycra, a sleeve tattoo (and a couple minor adjustments) he could almost be an Instagram sensation. Looking at Max and I, we may need to practice every day for the next year. Apparently despite the shoulder and hip opening poses, I still can’t move beyond the flat tyre (that’s tire, if you are American).
So, practice. If you want to move towards the yoga manual photos, you need to practice. As mentioned about different body shapes, you may never look like a gymnast, but you will move into the posture strongly with less effort. Which gives you more time to focus on your breath and enlightenment.
This kid can go into Mayurasana (peacock) without warming up. Not sure how, considering that he can’t stand holding downward dog for more than 2 breaths. But this advanced pose is easy peasy for him. We all have our strengths, we are all different. Rather than feeling self concious about it, embrace it – own that pose!