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Poses We Hate

No matter how advanced your practice is, surely there are asanas you'd just as soon avoid. Here, five top teachers divulge their nemeses and what they've learned by practicing them.

By Nina Zolotow and Jason Crandell

But a few years back, I experienced a breakthrough with Garudasana, and this breakthrough wasn't physical, it was emotional—even spiritual. I just made peace with it. I started noticing that my emotions surrounding the pose were actually throwing me off-balance, so I stopped doing that finishing act; I gave up feeling that I needed to achieve anything in the posture.

I still include Garudasana in my practice, but I'm no longer working toward "accomplishing" it—or any other particular pose. I could probably do the classic, final form of Garudasana if I made that the focus of a practice session, using hip openers, lunge variations, Pigeon Pose variations, and even backbends to release my hips and pelvis. But these days, I focus my practice more on the movement of energy than on some physical outcome. My practice is a purification—a cleaning of the slate—so when I go into the rest of my life, I'm more at peace with things.

Nina Zolotow is coauthor, with Rodney Yee, of Moving Toward Balance and Yoga: The Poetry of the Body. Jason Crandell is a staff yoga teacher at Yoga Journal and teaches public yoga classes in San Francisco.



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Reader Comments

Louise

I remember when I first started going to Yoga classes..As soon as my teacher announced handstand or some other pose I hated. I would have an urgent need to go to the toilet, have a drink anything to avoid it the task at hand. I now find with practice that all of these poses I talk with equanamity rather than avoidance. For me the change in my bodies ability (these poses arent as challenging as they used to be) the more my mind gave up the struggle as well. although there are some poses I still struggle with there isnt the same resistance to at least try..

Buds-dogma

I can't say I have found any poses that actually frieghten me...just ones that are hard (or initially impossible) to do. First have an expert assess your alignment and be certain you understand the pose. Yoga Journal's in depth descriptions are a tremendous resource. Then work on the source of the problem. If I'm worried about the landing in the event I happen to fall out of a pose, I do something about it. For example, if I think Crow pose might become a face plant, I'll put a folded up towel down where I think an emergency landing pad might come in handy. If I find a pose too challenging, I'll analyze where the problem seems to be. If a muscle is lacking, hit the weight room at the gym to specifically strengthen the neccessary muscles if they've proved to be too weak/puny. Also, work on problem issues in your everyday life, not just in your practivce: To improve balance, try standing on one leg while doing everyday tasks. In stead of sitting on furniture while you're watching TV, get down on the floor and work on opening joints or stretching stubborn tissues by simply holding passive poses that work the problem area. You'll be suprised how much your practice will improve when you actually have the strength and flexibility needed. And, when something does go awry, remember to laugh out loud and give it another try!

Gina

When ever I feel trepidation about practicing any pose I tune in to the fact that because I perceive it as difficult the pose must be exactly what I need to incorporate into my practice. As I mindfully investigate and practice the pose I find that my inner guide eventually soars from the experience. My yoga practice for various reasons since 2002 has been primarily a home based. Between the insightful articles in the Yoga Journal and constant reading I have learned to challenge poses which scare me one at a time and have been rewarded with balance returning to my life.

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