Warning: adult language below!
There are plenty of difficult poses out there:
Handstand without a wall, forearm stand without a wall…almost any inversion without a wall (except for Headstand).
Flying Pigeon or any variation of this.
Straight-arms Crow pose, Side Crow on my left side (so much for being balanced), grabbing the toe in Side Plank (a whole lotta nope…)
Overhead reach in Dancer’s Pose, Split (my hip flexors are real assholes with this one), any kind of Ashtanga-style Lotus combo, jump throughs, shakti kicks (jumping up into Handstand) Planche Pose (my boobs don’t like this at all), Tripod Headstand (almost fucked my neck up in this one pretty bad), Chin Stand (like….how?!).
Anything involving me sticking my heel into my crotch (think seated sequence in Ashtanga Primary Series), drop backs into Wheel Pose, hollow-back anything…
I’m pretty sure that there is no way I can master these poses.
I’m confident that I’m missing so many more, but the point is that it doesn’t matter.
There is no yogic cookie at the end of the practice if we can do all of these things. And if we can, that is our accomplishment to be enjoyed and humbly accepted.
The more we attach ourselves to the outcome, the further away we’re pushing ourselves from enjoying the practice.
I confess, I am a bit of a hypocrite. I have an Instagram account that shows the many poses that I’ve tried to do over the years. I also follow dedicated yogis who showcase pictures of all of the above poses with such ease and flexibility.
And I envy them.
So with each picture that I post, I ask myself:
Am I doing this because I want more likes and followers, or am I doing this because I want the pose to represent something deeper that I’ve learned?
Do I want people to see me or experience the message for themselves…in their own way?
Yoga is spreading, and that’s a beautiful thing.
But I fear that it’s spreading the pose, not it’s message.
So, I immediately look at myself and what I can do to shift my perspective. If I am going through my practice to nail down the list of poses above that I cannot do, then I am only scratching at the surface of what yoga has to offer.
I’m not even scratching—I’m searching for myself in all the wrong circles.
However, if I can use the poses to dig deeper into my own core and find the root of my suffering, then I can use yoga as its meant to be used: as a tool for understanding, not an ego boost.
If I can tap into the truth of my hips and find out that the real reason why I’m tight is because I hold back my emotions and don’t clear up my misunderstandings in relationships and love, then I’ve got something.
Practice doesn’t make perfect in yoga—if we’re not willing to search for the source, practicing with the crap on the surface is never going to get you deeper to where we need to go.
So it’s time to banish the list poses that we can’t do.
We may be able to do them one day or may never be able to do them. Strive for something greater. Unfurl your mat, step on it, and dedicate your practice to exploring your existence.
You don’t need a handstand to do that.
Your practice is about you, not what you think you need to bring to the “yoga community.” It’s about placing your physical body into a pose and exploring what it truly feels like. It’s about creating space to accept that it will feel uncomfortable and aggravating, and going there to relinquish control of ego and expectation.
That is the point of yoga.
Author: Aleksandra Slijepcevic
Editor: Renée Picard