Last weekend Mary Obendorfer came in to teach a weekend workshop at the Yoga Center. It was just great, and I got extra benefit from having Mary stay at my house. She is enormously generous with her time and knowledge, as well as being a delightful person.
On the first day of the teacher training Mary used me as a demo stemming from a question Kim asked about extending forward vs. pushing back in Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog). Mary asked me to go into Adho Mukha Virasana (downward facing hero). I always need a blanket between my heels and hips, and I always feel I need to push my hands into the mat to get my hips to go back.
Mary had me put my hands up on blocks and put a blanket under my forehead. Then she said something to the teachers like “Mary [me] won’t ever progress in this pose if she keeps doing it the way she always has.” Yikes! I was shocked, distressed, and elated. Shocked, because I’m always trying to work hard to loosen things up and never realized I wasn’t taking the right path. Distressed, because how many other poses am I as stuck in? And elated because the implication is that some of my physical barriers can actually change!
Later, Mary showed me some other things to do with my bugaboo poses, notably Upavistha Konasana (seated wide angle). I’ll write about those variations later. The cool thing was that now I can work on making progress in ways I was unaware of.
As a teaching moment, this was also illuminating. If a student has been doing the same pose over and over again and getting nowhere, it would be a good idea to look at other variations. It’s tricky – you have to give a variation enough time to have an effect without getting stuck in it.