Poses We Hate
Repeat, repeat, repeat. Instead of holding a pose for a long time, do it briefly but move in and out of it frequently in a single practice session. With a difficult asana like Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward-Facing Bow Pose), this strategy can help you find opening and ease.
Create a supportive sequence. This can consist of just a few poses, or you can develop a lengthy series that helps prepare your body for a pose you struggle with. You may be able to design such a sequence yourself, or you can get them from yoga books, videos, DVDs, Yoga Journal articles, or workshops that focus on a particular pose or category of poses. If you do take a class that happens to focus on your most troublesome pose or seems to make it more accessible, make sure to write down the sequence immediately after class. You can also ask a teacher to help you piece together a sequence that's tailored exactly for you.
Improve your alignment. Ask your teacher for feedback about your alignment too. You may be surprised to discover how much easier a pose becomes once you improve your alignment. Even if that doesn't happen, it's important to learn proper alignment so you don't fall into bad habits, overworking the places that are already strong or flexible and underworking those that are weak or tight.
Buddy up. Practicing with a friend often creates a relaxed, informal atmosphere that makes the whole experience easier and more fun. And having the moral support of a yoga partner can encourage you to be a bit more daring than usual.
Cultivate playfulness. Bringing curiosity, lightness, and self-acceptance into your practice can have a huge impact. Just as Baron Baptiste did with Garudasana, make peace with the poses that frustrate you rather than fighting to master them.
POSES WE LOVE
As you confront your resistance and fears, finding new ways to tackle previously hated poses, you'll discover the exhilaration and empowerment that come from facing difficulty. But remember that you're only human; taking on more than one or two hard poses at once can be frustrating and might even discourage you from practicing. So be sure to include your favorites as well. Try starting and ending your practice with your most beloved poses, and use them as tiny treats throughout your sequence. After all, these are still the poses that are most likely to lure you to your mat and provide you with the relaxing, comforting, and even joyful experiences that are as much a part of yoga practice as the challenges are.
If you've ever had a least favorite pose, you're not alone. Even yoga teachers have them, and they've shared their struggles with you.
Patricia Walden on Marichyasana I
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