Monday, May 19, 2014

Musings from the Yoga Mat

In pursuit of fitness and the sheer joy of movement, I unrolled my yoga mat and rebooted my yoga practice. 

On the way to my ultimate goal which is the Headstand, I stumbled across an intriguing arm balance called The Crow Pose (Kakasana).

Google "crow pose" and you will generate different techniques from different yoga instructors. One teacher says to flex the heck out of your abs, another says to squeeze the legs against the arms. Start from frog pose, says this guru. Start in downward dog, says another.

It's easy to get confused. But really, it all boils down to what feels right and what works to for your body. As one yoga teacher said, "Find your center."  Each human body is structured uniquely. I have light arms relative to my legs. It was a conundrum as to how my arms could hold all that weight. Through practice, I was able to find the sweet spot where my shins and my upper arms should connect. By tweaking and trial and error, I was able to finally lift up by making two adjustments : squeezing my thighs in and pushing my shoulders away from my ears while keeping my palms firmly rooted on the mat. Inhale, squeeze legs in. Exhale, lift and push shoulders away from the ears. 
Ta-da! I was able to hold this pose for 5 seconds. It was the best feeling. The exact physiological benefits of this pose  escape me at the moment, save for the fact that it works the heck out of your arms, but it was like fireworks for my psyche. I felt that I had accomplished a seemingly impossible task. Nothing is impossible really. What gets in the way, I realized, is fear. In this case, the fear of face planting.    

Everyday, I work on holding this pose a little bit longer. Some days it's easy, some days it's like pushing a boulder up a cliff. But I do feel that my arms,the weakest part of my body, are getting stronger. 

And now I am challenging myself to do other arm balancing poses such as the Side Crow. 

By practicing these poses, I find myself paying attention to my body more. Am I balanced and aligned? Why is this part of my body sore and tight? What part of my body is strong? What part of my body is weak? How do I strengthen it? Which muscle group should I engage and activate so that I can lift my feet off the ground?

I suppose this is why yoga practice is so resonant with me. I do like having conversations with my (inner) self. And when things feel out of alignment  - in asanas and in life - I tell myself to breathe, find my center, and the balance will come.

1 comment:

queenmab said...

Hey Char! this pose is still a challenge for me, still struggling. sigh. Congrats on accomplishing this!

Miss you! how is life down under? :)