Yoga is learning the delicate balance between control and surrender. In order to hold and flow from pose to pose without falling, we must exert a level of concentrated control. Yet in order to truly let our body move, release and breathe, we must allow ourselves to surrender. So here is a quick primer on how to work through difficult yoga poses.
How to work through difficult yoga poses?
The balancing act of control and surrender is something that can make yoga difficult, especially for the beginner.
Calm Your Fears
Fear can creep into your yoga practice, stunting your progress or even halting it altogether. Do not allow this to happen. Let me explain:
Let’s say you’ve never attempted Camel Pose (or any of its modified versions), for fear of not being able to do it. You may say to yourself, “I’ll never be able to do that, why try?”
In this situation, you are allowing fear to control you, rather than the other way around.
Here is another example: let’s say you try a balancing pose such as Tree Pose. However, you find yourself constantly tensing your body out of fear – which ultimatly leads to falling.
This, again, is allowing fear to control you, rather than the other way around.
Yoga teaches that the best way to overcome your fear is through surrender and non-attachment. Do not allow yourself to be afraid of failure – go ahead and safely try modified versions of poses you haven’t tried yet. Do not allow yourself to become attached to an image of yourself perfectly executing a pose. Instead, allow yourself to do each pose exactly as you can do it today. Go with it and flow with it – take it as it comes.
Without attachment and expectations, there is nothing left to fear.
Surrender and Relax
“Fear is excitement without the breath.” – Fritz Perls
Once you’ve let go of your fears and preconcieved notions of what your yoga practice should or should not look like, it’s time to relax. The only way we can truly allow ourselves to stretch, tone the muscles, and avoid injury is by relaxing into each pose.
How can we do this? By simply breathing.
It’s been said that “fear is excitement without the breath.” When we become afraid, we tense up and our breathing becomes short and shallow. Consciously control the breath instead. Breathe deeply into each pose. With each breath in – make a mental check for areas of tension in the body. Which each breath out, allow the tension to release.
Of course, we do not want to totally relax and flow over – so it’s important to maintain a level of bodily control amid our surrender to the pose. This balancing act is something that takes practice and time. It’s something we can only learn by practicing – not by reading, observing or speaking with others.
Before your next practice, take a moment to contemplate the balance between control and surrender. Think about what fear and attachment may play in this matter. Work off this and allow yourself to learn through your experience.
And remember: perfection is never the goal of yoga. Rather, the goal is simply to keep up, keep learning and keep growing in your practice.