hard stuff, poses

Addressing a difficult pose

I was rooting around in my old posts for this blog and found one I saved as a draft in January and then forgot to post.  So here it is.

At the end of class yesterday a couple of other people doing YoMo and I talked about how it’s going.  (This was just what I hoped would happen – that people would share their experiences of home practice.)  

One person bemoaned her inability to do Virasana.  This morning I was thinking specifically about Virasana, and then more globally about how to work on a pose that is particularly challenging.  I think that following a Practice for Study approach might be helpful.  That’s where you start with an attempt at the target pose (and in the case of poses that are especially hard, you start very propped), and then do a pose that contains some component of the target pose, and then the target pose again, and then another related pose, and then the target pose again, and so on.  For Virasana, Parighasana (gate latch) might help because you’re on a knee but upright, and so that would work on the front of the shin and ankle.  Vajrasana (thunderbolt, ow, ow, but good) is another possibility.  (Sorry, no thumbnail pic for that one.  It’s where you kneel with your feet together and sit down on your heels, trying to keep your ankles together. ) Utkatasana (chair) and Malasana (garland) are other ones that might be good to help with Virasana.

Another approach, which could also be done simultaneously with Practice for Study, is to try the target pose every single day, with as much propping as necessary.  In the case of Virasana, it could be that you’d put lots of padding under your legs, with less under the feet so that they can drop down.  So maybe kneel on three folded blankets, with your feet not on the blankets.  Then put rolled-up washcloths behind your knees, or maybe a rolled-up sticky mat.  You could be sitting up almost straight, with a pile of blankets or a couple of blocks, or even a footstool or other piece of home furniture, under your sitting bones.  (When I came back to class, at the beginning of having Lyme disease, I couldn’t sit lower than on six folded blankets.  Very demoralizing.)  You might even have to lean forwards a bit, with your arms on a chair.  And then after all that propping, try sitting for only, say, three breaths.

Then as you can and very slowly over time, remove props and add time in the pose.  One breath more.  Then two.  Then one less blanket. And so on.

When I work on my most difficult pose, Upavistha Konasana (seated wide angle bend), I also do Prasarita Padottanasana (wide-legged forward bend) and Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) with legs open wide, because they use the same leg position, and gravity is my friend in both of them.  I do others that work on my adductors and my hip flexors too, of course. 

Virasana
Virasana
Parighasana
Parighasana
Utkatasana
Utkatasana
Prasarita Padottanasana
Prasarita Padottanasana
Viparita Karani
Viparita Karani

1 thought on “Addressing a difficult pose”

  1. I probably told you about the student who used the Chicago (?) phone directory as a block under her sitting bones in her daily Virasana. She tore one page out of the directory each day and eventually reached the floor.

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