What is your approach to life? Do you look at the ‘big’ goals and think of the long climb uphill which will definitely get you huffing and puffing…and well, you know that you may just quit halfway up..and so lets just put it off for a while. Do you look at the final asana and
1. Get discouraged because you “just know” you’re not flexible enough.
2. Hurt yourself by propelling yourself into the asana.
3. Get yourself into the asana in improper form.
Your approach to the final asana mirrors your approach to life. If your attitude towards your yoga practice is any one of the three, you need to shift your perception. Here’s what I suggest:
1. A goal, much like an asana, takes time. It requires careful study and dilligent practice. If your goal is a promotion, you need to look at your work right now and think about how you can add value. If your goal is to run a marathon, then you need to draw up a running plan and start on it today. If your goal is a particular asana you need to not only ask your teacher for some extra help, but also read up on it on your own, and practice it on your own. Yes, you need to put in more work than the next guy. Because you want more than the next guy. Therefore, be prepared to work longer and harder than the next guy.
2. Preparation is key. An inversion is as much about abdominal and arm strength as it is about balance. If your arms and abs aren’t ready for it you will topple. A manager (in those long ago days when I used to don the smart formals and stride resolutely into the office, laptop in hand) once told me that a promotion is not only about whether you have the ‘know-how’ to work at the next level. It’s also about whether you are emotionally mature to take on what comes with the next role. You may have washboard abs, but if your arms (or your mind for that matter) are not strong enough to take on an advance pose, then you’ll have physical trauma as well as emotional trauma (“She does it so easily, why can’t I? This must mean I’m not fit enough and therefore I suck.”) to contend with. Take it slow. Put in your work. The asana will come on its own. So will the promotion. The 21K…even the trek to the Himalayan summit!
3. The soft-spoken Indian politician (allegedly Cambridge educated), who sputters through his party’s manifesto in an interview with a Cambridge-educated wolf in a journalist’s clothing. The heir to a business empire who helplessly meditates next to the Ganges as he flounders through one bad decision after another and tries to keep the business afloat. The GRE, CAT, UPSC candidate who wants to devote all her waking hours to Bharta Natyam practice. The runner, weight lifter, CrossFitter, swimmer, tennis player agressively pushing her forehead to her knees because, well she can grab her toes easily and can hold the plank for 5 minutes, so this should be a piece of cake. All these people can do great things, but they aren’t ready for whatever they are doing right now. And it shows in their answers, in their decisions, in their performance and in their injuries. An asana is a highly technical posture which requires a LOT of practice and understanding. Sometimes success is not about building, it’s about deconstructing. What do you need to be good at right now to reach your ultimate goal? Work on that. When you finally ‘get’ the asana, you won’t be setting yourself up for long-term injuries.
This move looks simple. It builds abdominal strength, back strength, strong shoulders and arms. It’s an inversion, so it’s great for your heart, skin, hair etc. Keep your thighs turned in towards each other. Make sure your abs are pulled in. Square your shoulders and push them away from your ears. Push your hands evenly into the floor. Push your heels into the wall. Only if you follow all these rules are you doing this right. You’re building yourself up to handstands and other inversions. If not, then you’re going to start noticing cervical issues, weak elbows, spine compression amongs other things.