There’s something wrong with this title, isn’t there? Yoga is not supposed to be about the pose...it’s a beautiful practice focused on the melding of breath and movement.
Yet when you’ve been practicing yoga for a while and it’s a regular part of your life, finding that traditional poses—some of your favorite poses—have become painful, it’s easy to become frustrated with the constraints of your body.
Yoga poses are about how you react to the pose, how you transition in and out of the poses. One of my favorite yoga teachers always said “Yoga is being comfortable with being uncomfortable”. Being able to breathe and find a bit of Savasana in every posture.
I’ve got that being uncomfortable part down. I find myself trying to force my poor, swollen Achilles into one of my favorite poses, Trikonasana,Triangle pose. And my left foot toes will just not extend to the ground. My foot only wants to flex right now. My left knee won’t bend right now; I can barely get to Virasana, Hero’s pose, with 2 blocks under me for support. What I haven’t quite found is the Savasana in these places. The acceptance that I can’t do poses right now that I love.
I’ve been barreling through my poses, hoping to find relief through yoga, while all I’m really doing is just pushing through. NOT listening to my body. This persistence of mine can be a great quality at times in life…but as I step back and examine my yoga practice, it’s clearly telling me that right now, pushing through is not the answer.
So I’ve taken a step back from my regular active practice. It’s a little scary stepping back from something that’s become such an integral part of your life. But I must admit it’s also a bit of a relief. I suddenly have a several extra hours a week and I get a lot of "life" done. I’m practicing at home more, trying to listen to my body and give it the poses it needs to restore itself right now.
Yoga does not always have to be full steam ahead. There can be pauses and detours. Yoga is not a destination, it’s a journey. That’s the big lesson yoga has taught me.
What is your mat telling you?