One Little Victory of Yoga

Allistair Santiago

yoga-victory.jpgThey say “no pain, no gain.” Well, I’ve been attempting to practice yoga for a few months now and while there’s been a steady supply of the former, I can’t help but notice a woeful deficit of the latter. Until now.

If you’ve read any past posts, you’ll know that I’ve been experiencing some trouble with flexibility. Basically it’s been non-existent. I couldn’t even approximate some of the bends and twists. But this week, things changed slightly.

I’ve been trying to focus more on myself and my own alignment than on the instructor’s. I’ve been pushing myself too hard to get right into the full pose. This, I’ve learned, does damage. So instead of trying to copy the teacher outright, I’m trying to understand what the pose is supposed to feel like and work my way into it. Since I practice Yin, which holds poses for up to five minutes, there’s plenty of time to adjust and deepen.

Empowered by a few tips from friends and blog respondents, I attended my regular Yin session eagerly. However, being stiff from two days of soccer didn’t do much for my physical prowess. Everything hurt.

The session started with some hip-opening leg exercises. I held shallow versions of the stretches and tried to concentrate on my breathing and my own physical space. It didn’t work. I got distracted again and had to keep pulling my mind back.

It was close to the end of the session when something clicked. I was tired and stiff. I really just wanted to head home and slip quietly into a coma in a cool and secluded corner. Nico, our instructor, had us assume a bizarre seated position with one leg in front (knee bent and shin parallel to the front of the mat) and one leg stretched behind us. It seemed like a softer version of the splits. I immediately had my doubts, and assumed the position reluctantly.

Once we were all seated, we were instructed to bend forward from the hips, tilting the pelvis towards the ground. I started leaning into the pose, but predictably couldn’t go far. But this time it was different. I was more comfortable than I had been in any of the other poses. I focused on my breathing and soon found I was lower to the ground.
Now try to put your forearms on the ground” Nico instructed us. “Ha!” thought I. But I tried anyway and found that my elbows were only inches from their goal. Calmly, trying to breathe into the stretch, I spent the rest of the pose trying to get my arms acquainted with the ground. And, deepening with every exhale, it finally happened. I felt one elbow touched down firmly. The other was not so successful, but I could feel it brushing the ground closely. Then we were told to come out of the stretch for cool down.

So it’s been a victory. A minor one, but a victory nonetheless. I think I understand the whole process better after that experience, but I haven’t had the chance to try it out again. Guess we’ll see what happens next week.
[tags]yin yoga, practicing yoga, breathing, focus, yoga poses, bending[/tags]

3 Responses to “One Little Victory of Yoga”

  1. Shanna Small says:

    Yoga is about the journey not the destination. Totally take the word “flexible” out of you vocabulary because it doesn’t matter. It is all about where your body is at the present moment. Every day you do yoga is a victory not just when you do a seemingly hard pose.

  2. Amber says:

    Sounds like Pigeon. A delightful pose that used to make me cry because of its intensity (and my tendency to push myself too hard). That’s how I got into yoga therapy 🙂 CONGRATS on your successful deepening into your poses. Feels sooo good, huh?!?

  3. Allistair says:

    Yeah, I’m starting to realize that “flexibility” doesn’t really come into it. It’s all about being comfortable in your own space at the time. This has honestly been more of a mental shift for me than a physical one, I guess. But you’re right, it does feel good. I appreciate the feedback!

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