December 21, 2013

Please Don’t Make Me Do Bakasana (& Other Poses On My Sh*t List).

I remember the first time I did bakasana (crow pose).

I was a newbie in a level one class at an intense studio—the kind of place where everyone looks like ex Olympic figure skaters, and the teacher just casually tossed it into the sequence.

I looked around, bewildered, as 75% of the class popped right into it and the other 25% gamely worked on the set up.

“This is a level one pose,” the teacher said, as if sensing my dismay. So I gave it a shot, fell on my face, and went straight to balasana (child’s pose) to lick my wounds.

I can do bakasana these days, I even teach it, but I still don’t like it. When I’m in it I feel like a big awkward beetle perched on a flower stem. I’ve never found one ounce of confidence or stillness in it, despite what I think is a decent execution. I mean, I’m up there, everything is where it should be, I’m breathing, my drishtis all set, but it still rubs me the wrong way.

Here is a short list of other poses I dislike;

Utkatasna (ugly chair pose)

First of all, the name. Really? Ugly chair pose?

And like an ugly chair, it seems poorly assembled and not at all in keeping with most other poses which have at least some modicum of elegance or style. Ugly chair pose really seems to me exactly like it sounds; an eyesore upholstered in cheap fabric set in the middle of an otherwise beautiful room.

Runner’s stretch

This is the precursor to a pose I love, hanumansana (full splits, which I can’t quite do, but almost), but I always end up slouching over in runner’s stretch like the hunchback of Notre Dame no matter how determined I am to lead with my chin.

Also, it lacks glamor and intrigue. Every high school football coach knows how to do runner’s stretch.

Give me paschimotansana (seated forward fold), or any other leg opener. There are so many poses that get into our leg muscles, and I would rather do any one of them.

Garbha Pindasana (womb pose)

I really hate this pose. The full lotus with the arms sticking through and then the rolling around like a cockroach stuck on it’s back ala Gregor from Kafka’s Metamorphosis…lord help me!!

The fact that I have to bunch up my pants (squeezing my thigh fat unattractively out of my spandex), and spray water all over my legs and arms to cram everything where it’s supposed to be doesn’t help matters.

If this pose is meant to humble practitioners, it succeeds.

Maricyasana D (reversed seated twist with half lotus and bind)

This is one of those postures that looks like what people who don’t know much about yoga imagine when you say “yoga”. When you do it, you resemble a Barbie that someone tore the limbs off of, and then put back on in all the wrong sockets. And you feel that way, too.

I liked marichy D for a second, the one day I managed to get into it, but as soon as I got out of it, and I heard a strange pop in my back and nothing in my spine worked properly for the next few weeks, I was over it.

Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana (revolved half moon)

Ugh. This pose is a bit like standing splits which I also dislike, except with a twist and a balance thrown in. To me,  it might as well be a plate of  despicable brussels sprouts with an anchovy and some bubble gum thrown in.

Like bakasana, though I get into revolved half moon adequately, it makes me feel awkward and out of control, similar to how I felt walking though the halls in middle school resplendent in my giant scoliosis brace.


I could go on and on.

It seems strange that I could passionately love yoga, but eschew so many things I do in it. On the other hand, I often think of yoga as a perfect analogy to life, and in life, nothing is all sunshine and butterflies.

Yoga teaches us how to accept dukkha (suffering), how to sit with it dispassionately and therefore remain minimally affected by it. In that regard, the poses I hate are the ones that are preparing me to handle the rest of reality. The ones that I love don’t teach me nearly as much.

So give me a sequence packed with ugly chairs, runner’s stretches, womb poses, marychi Ds, and revolved half moons, and ignore me as I make that sucking-on-a-lemon face. I’m getting the important work done, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo:  Flickr


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