Poses We Hate
SEVEN TACTICS FOR TRANSFORMATION
OK, so maybe by now you're kinda sorta convinced that practicing poses you find onerous might be a good idea. But where do you start? The thought of forcing yourself to do one of your least favorite poses the same old unpleasant way probably feels discouraging—and it's not the most helpful method, either. Instead, stand back for a moment and consider the following steps for transforming your relationship with these poses.
Identify Your Discomfort. Your first step should be determining exactly why you loathe a pose. Understanding why you dislike it so much is the key to figuring out how to come to terms with it.
One of the most obvious reasons is that it causes you physical discomfort or even pain. Such discomfort can take a lot of different forms. Many students say Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) and Halasana (Plow Pose) make them feel trapped and claustrophobic. Others complain that their breathing feels constricted in twists, or that they just feel jammed and stuck in some forward bends and backbends.
Over time, you should be able to reduce and maybe even eliminate these discomforts. Do keep in mind, of course, that some mild muscle pain may be inevitable along the way as you ask your body to move and stretch in ways that it doesn't in daily life. (Caution: Always pay attention to sharp pain; it is usually an important message from your body indicating that you should back off immediately.)
Another reason you might hate a pose is that it causes you fear. Maybe you worry about harming yourself: hurting your lower back in backbends, straining your neck in Shoulderstand, or falling on your face in arm balances. Or you may experience so much disorientation—or sheer terror—in inversions like Headstand and Handstand that you find yourself making an unnecessary and exceptionally long trip to the restroom every time your teacher calls for them.
Finally, difficulties with a pose are often compounded by embarrassment or shame. Some students hate Chaturanga Danda- sana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) because it makes them feel like a weakling; others suffer from performance anxiety in Virabhadrasana III (Warrior Pose III) and Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), worrying that they are going to fall out of the poses in front of the whole class.
Once you've figured out exactly why certain poses are so irksome to you, you can begin to employ specific tactics to address your personal challenges.
Use props and pose variations. If you take a moment to think about it, you may realize that you already know variations and props to make a pose you find difficult much more accessible. If you need more suggestions, most teachers can give you a hand. Patricia Walden, Barbara Benagh, and Seane Corn all cite props and modifications as crucial in their work with difficult poses (see below).
As part of this approach, you can take small steps toward the pose without trying to do the full position. For example, your version of Handstand could be putting your hands on the floor and walking your feet up the wall. As you get stronger, steadier, and more confident, you can try lifting one leg at a time toward the ceiling. Eventually, you may find that you're prepared to tackle the full pose.