Why Some Asanas Seem More Challenging Than Others
With consistent Yoga practice, there are many poses we can learn. And while many can be learned quite easily, certain poses can be a real challenge. A challenging pose can make us feel stuck and trigger frustration. One of the main reasons for this frustration is that a challenging asana uncovers our weak points, telling us that we are not as strong, flexible, balanced or in control of our body, breath and mind as we thought we were. Unfortunately being good at an asana has very limited value.
In terms of Yoga it can even be counter-productive as it only feeds our ego. On the other hand, the poses that challenge us, make us uncomfortable and trigger unwanted emotions are the ones we should value as there lies the growth. Being able to get into an asana is not so much about the final physical result that you can see (that is you in the asana) but rather the awareness that you build on the way to mastering it.
As we work on various poses, we find ways to focus beyond our thought patterns and learn to overcome our fears. While building the required strength, flexibility, balance, focus and perseverance, we unleash a new part of our potential.
The main way to work on a challenging asana is, of course, to practice it daily. We gradually get better by approaching the asana with an open attitude and willingness to explore it deeper and deeper.
4 Ways To Get “Unstuck” In Your Yoga Practice
1. Approach each pose from the core and direct your body with the breath
When we see an asana on a picture, the main visible aspects that make up the asana are our limbs: Are the legs straight or bent, behind our head or in front, are the arms extended or binding around the knee etc. What we don’t see is that the core and spine are always stable and the breath deep and even.
Always listen, watch and feel your breath and use it to understand the asana better.
By attempting an asana with the focus on what the arms and legs are doing, we often times lose stability in the core, distorting the spine and wondering why we cannot breathe properly. Never sacrifice the breath or a stable core for getting deeper into any asana.
2. Focus on the body part that is most challenging and learn from it
If a body part is not readily working as we wish, we have to study them. This includes anatomical aspects about bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles involved as well as, mechanical principals, especially when the movements between asanas (vinyasas) are learned.
At the same time, knowing the English, Latin or Sanskrit term for any body part won’t help you unless you put it into practice and feel the anatomy in your own body. For example, practice hip openers to slowly open your hips, learn how to externally rotate your upper and lower leg to take pressure off the knee and take some time to build strength and stability in your ankle, not allowing it to collapse. If you work on all three parts consistently, the open hip, the nicely aligned knee and the strong ankle can act as a unit.
3. Let go of the result and be happy in the moment
Start appreciating the imperfection of each manifestation of an asana, feel the subtle differences – every day a bit different. Love your body for what it is, how it looks and feels in the moment. Laugh when you fall out of a pose, as not to take yourself or yoga practice too seriously.
As we work towards overcoming a challenge, we live the very moments that can stay with us and make us trust and believe in our potential, long after we have succeeded in the asana. Enjoy the moment and see the value of what your mind perceives as imperfect. It’s an illusion and the moment is indeed perfect already.
4. Find a yoga teacher that helps you go beyond asana practice
Aside from valuable tips and adjustments, a teacher can provide the needed support and direct your focus on and off the yoga mat. A yoga teacher can provide you with a growing practice that meets you where you are not only physically, but mentally as well.