10,000 Vinyasas

Tag: balance poses


by on Jul.23, 2011, under Yoga, Yoga practice

That's not me!

When I began practicing yoga, my deficiencies were painfully apparent: I had little or no flexibility in legs, hips, shoulders, chest and back; I had some strength, but much of it was unavailable due to the lack of flexibility, and my balance, well, let’s just say it was terrible. In subsequent years of practice, I developed much more usable strength and flexibility, but my balance remains my weakest point to this day. Certainly it is a source of some frustration in my practice, but nowhere so much as when I contemplate the first standing balance pose of Ashtanga’s Primary Series: utthita hasta padangusthasana. Without question, there is no other balance pose to which I find even remotely close in ferocious difficulty, and one which I have struggled with, mostly in vain, ever since I began practicing Primary Series. The full expression involves a great many breaths standing on one leg, bowing over the lifted leg, taking the leg out while looking in the opposite direction, and bringing the leg forward again for yet another bow, and then holding the leg out for five more breaths. I can see very slow progress in this pose when I reflect on how poorly I used to perform it (frequently hopping on the one leg before losing balance), but still,at best it has to be considered a work in progress. I have somewhat come to terms with the apparent fact that I have special challenges in balance poses in general and this one in particular, but I still would like to master it, or at least be more steady. I certainly don’t avoid it when I conduct my personal practice. I also notice that the floor surface actually makes a difference, which I find puzzling. In other words, I just about have the full expression of this pose down when I practice at home on the carpet, but on the mat, it’s a different story. I also note that there aren’t, apparently, any secrets or tips to learning this pose, other than just adopting the proper form, which is disappointing. I don’t suppose there is any solution to this, other than more practice, and being satisfied with the excrutiatingly slow pace of progress.

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