Whenever I felt I was “done” with a posture my teachers Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath Jois would challenge me to lift up higher and be stronger. Sometimes the most useful work on the mat involves taking a step back. It can be very rewarding and humbling to retrace your steps in service of building a better foundation. Revisiting poses you think you’ve mastered to eliminate bad habits and relied-on cheats can add all kinds of new challenge to “old” asana.
We all have to start somewhere and I definitely recommend doing postures at whatever level is appropriate for you. Many modifications are important stepping stones to build strength and flexibility—others are just bad habits. Once you’ve been relying on modified or improper alignment for a while, I recommend refining your practice, removing the training wheels, and challenging yourself to take it the next level.
The most difficult postures in yoga push you up against the edge of your comfort zone. And it is so tempting to take the easy way out instead of slowly and steadily putting in the work. Part of the inner tradition of yoga includes developing the humility to put the effort into whatever task is at hand. Right now, that task is the arm balance Crow Pose (Bakasana) and its relatives. Let’s work on cleaning up some of the most common cheats.
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