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Yoga Poses

5 Reasons to Tackle a Challenging Pose

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I’ll never forget the first time I saw a picture of an advanced pose–so advanced I didn’t even believe it was possible. It was the first time I picked up a copy of Yoga Journal. I was so confused about how someone could hold her legs up in the air like that in Eka Pada Koundiyanasana. For all of 10 seconds, I tried to mimic the model’s form. Of course, I failed miserably. I threw my hands up in frustration and gave up. In a sarcastic, know-it-all tone, I thought to myself, “Whatever! That’s TOTALLY Photoshopped!” I moved on to something else.

If only I knew then what I know now…

Those poses that look like an impossible, unattainable dream are full of opportunities to learn and grow. Here are a just few reasons to give them a try (with the guidance of a teacher, of course!)–especially if they look daunting.

1. Amaze yourself!
When you have a great teacher to guide you through a difficult pose, you might find that the pose isn’t nearly as hard as it looks. But you’ll never know if you don’t try–and that’s just depriving yourself of the opportunity to see how amazing you truly are.

2. Experience the moment fully. If you’re only practicing poses
you’re comfortable with, you probably aren’t giving yourself the
opportunity to feel fully in the moment. It’s easy to think about your
grocery list when you’re hanging out in Child’s Pose, but your mind has
to stay focused on the now when you’re learning a challenging pose.
Challenge yourself on the mat (or off) once a day. It will change your

3. You’ll never get there without practice. The sooner you start, the
sooner you’ll reach your goal. (And I’m not just talking about yoga
poses, you know?)

4. What’s the worst that could happen? If you follow your body’s cues and back off when you’ve reached your edge (stop at the first sign of pain), you’re not likely to injure yourself. So what’s the worst-case scenario? You fall on your face in front of your classmates, and they all look at you. They might even giggle a little as they watch you go down. Great! That just means you’re one step closer to learning the pose–AND you made someone’s day. Lucky you!

5. The pose doesn’t matter. The real yoga lies in the process of trying it! The poses are just a means to an end–greater understanding and awareness. So what if you don’t nail it the first time (or the first million times)? The goal of the practice is not to touch your feet to your head, but to touch your life with more peace, compassion, understanding, serenity … and, well, you get the point.

What challenging pose are you going to tackle next?

Erica Rodefer is a writer and yoga enthusiast in Charleston, SC. Visit her blog,, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook.