Poses We Hate
Most of the time these days, I do Purvottanasana with bent knees. That lets me experience its strength instead of being blocked by my weakness, my spindly calves. I also use creative, fluid ways to approach the pose, like coming into it from Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose) instead of lifting up from Dandasana (Staff Pose). This method creates more opening in the front of my torso and my shoulders. It also allows me to access my intuitive spirit to feel my way into my best expression of the pose. I think most of us experience lifting from Dandasana into Purvottanasana as a real grunt; coming into it more fluidly allows the inner bhava [the taste or flavor of the experience] to not be shocked by that energetic grunt.
Although I haven't exactly learned to love Purvottanasana, it's important to me not to avoid it, because it teaches me about my aversions and their roots. It has also helped me realize that there are many different paths up the mountain; there are ways to receive the opening of Purvottanasana without forcing my body or obsessing about perfect outer form.
Seane Corn on
I have a slight scoliosis [a sideways curve of the spine], so one side of my spine is really restricted. When I do Parivrtta Trikonasana on my challenged side, I have to be on my fingertips or even a block to get the spinal extension I need. On a physical level, the pose is really restricted; I can't breathe freely, and it often just doesn't feel good. And in terms of my ego, it's very humbling.
To prepare for the pose, I'll practice Sun Salutations to warm up my body and then do some hamstring-stretching poses and a series of basic floor twists. To come into Parivrtta Trikonasana, sometimes I start from Parsvottanasana with my hands on the floor, or I'll do a modified Parivrtta Trikonasana with my front knee bent so I can focus on the rotation in my torso. Parivrtta Trikonasana on my difficult side has definitely helped teach me humility—and patience, acceptance, and surrender. When I'm in a difficult situation these days, sometimes I think to myself, "Well, this is just Parivrtta Trikonasana." In the past, if something was uncomfortable, I might have just avoided it. Now, the more challenged I am, the more interested I am: Why don't I want to go there? What can this teach me?
Baron Baptiste on
I struggled with Garudasana for years. I always had difficulty with the finishing act of wrapping my free foot around the standing ankle. There would be times when I could do it effortlessly, but other times I'd really have to work at it, which would often throw me off-balance. And it would really frustrate me to be in a group practice and see other practitioners who could do it so effortlessly. I had a lot of internal turmoil about the fact that I couldn't get the pose 'right."