Pushing Past The Need For Perfection

For this week’s learning post, I didn’t want to just find another yoga resource, review the resource, and add some pictures or videos. While this way of learning and posting has been working for me in the past, I am finding that there really aren’t that many beginner/intermediate hatha yoga poses out there! I didn’t want to just keep posting about the same old poses over and over. So instead, after trying intermediate yoga for the past few weeks and finding that many of the resources use the same poses, I decided I would compile a list of the poses that I seem to be trying over and over, no matter the resource. However, after researching a little more, I realized that an article on Greatist had already done the work for me!  The Greatist article has a write up for each of the following poses including how to do them and their benefits, so I wont take the time to list those again. However, here are my own personal opinions on each of the poses!

Plank

Plank

I LOVE plank pose. It’s fairly simple, but can be adapted to every body type. It’s one pose where you can definitely feel the effects and benefits as you’re doing it, and it’s so beneficial for strengthening abdominal and arm muscles.

 

Chaturanga Dandasana

Chaturanga Dandasana

This pose was much more difficult for me. If you look at the Greatist article, I look nothing like the woman doing the pose. However, it’s a pose I will continue to work on as it seems like it will really help strengthen the arms.

 

Upward Facing Dog

Upward Facing Dog

I found upward facing dog to be fairly simple and liked that it gave a nice stretch for my back. It seems pretty similar to the cobra pose often used in sun salutations.

 

 

Half Moon

Half Moon

If you look at the Greatist article, you will see I only included a picture of the first part of this pose. The first is one that I have done many times and feel comfortable doing. The second part was incredibly difficult for me though! I don’t know if it’s a lack of balance or flexibility, but I just could not keep my front leg straightened while also trying to have my arm touch the ground and keep myself standing up. I think a good adaptation for this pose would be just bending the front leg, but for some reason this idea did not actually cross my mind when attempting the pose.

Warrior 1

Warrior 1

Warrior 1 is a pose that I am actually very familiar with from my beginner yoga resources, so it was interesting to notice that my warrior looks absolutely nothing like the girl in the article’s. I think next time I will try a deeper lunge with my legs further apart. I like this pose because it allows me to practice my balance and is not particularly strenuous!

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 2.05.07 PM

Warrior 3

Yes, I’m aware that this picture is super blurry, but that’s because I could not hold still for it! I found warrior 3 to be incredibly challenging. I just could not get my body to stay horizontal. The article suggests modifying the pose by placing hands on the ground or a block, and I think this would help with balance, and would help me get my leg straighter and closer to being 90 degrees.

 

Intense Side Stretch

Intense Side Stretch

When doing this pose I was really surprised that it was considered an intermediate pose, as it seemed so simple. However, after looking at this picture I realize that my back was not as flat as it should have been. I think this would have helped stretch me more and therefore would’ve made the pose more difficult.

 

 

Dolphin

Dolphin

Dolphin was a new pose for me, but is one that I really enjoyed. It was very calming and relaxing, and seemed like an extension of Downward Dog.

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 2.06.57 PM

Bow

Oh wow was I awful at this pose! If you look on the article you’ll see that the point of the pose is to have your thighs off the ground. Well, that was not happening for me. However, if you look at the picture in the article the woman seems to really be struggling, so it must not just be me! This is one I will keep practicing. My goal is to have my thighs lift at least somewhat from the ground!

Camel

Camel

Again, a super tough pose.It looked easy in the picture but it turns out I am just not super flexible. My goal for this one is to eventually touch my feet. Any tips from fellow yogis?

 

 

 

Sorry this post is so picture heavy, but I think they’re really important in order to monitor progress! I’ll admit I was pretty disheartened after comparing my own pictures to the one from the article. For lots of them, I thought I was doing the pose correctly and then looked at my pictures and felt like there was something wrong with me. It made me question whether I have really made progress at all, and whether I am “good enough” to consider myself an intermediate. I was in kind of a slump, until I found another article on Greatist about why our yoga poses will never look like the instructor’s, and why that’s a good thing. The article discusses how muscular constraints and skeletal limitations mean that all people look different doing yoga. There was one quote in the article that really hit home for me:

“It is better to strive in one’s own dharma [your essential nature] than to succeed in the dharma of another. Nothing is ever lost in following one’s own dharma, but competition in another’s dharma breeds fear and insecurity.” -Bhagavad Gita

The article and this quote in particular really made me question why I was questioning myself! No, I do not look anything like the woman in the photographs. But why should I? I have been practicing yoga for a few months, she probably has been for years. While I am struggling through many of the intermediate poses, that does not mean that I should go back to the beginning. The poses are challenging me and I am still getting all the benefits of practicing yoga, so why not just keep practicing and modifying them to fit my needs and abilities instead of giving up? Overall, I am back to feeling confident about my progress and abilities.

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2 thoughts on “Pushing Past The Need For Perfection

  1. Brea Nyhus says:

    Hi Ashton

    I love following your yoga learning project and felt maybe time to comment instead of looking! HA. At the moment, I am taking KHS 131 at the University which is revolved around the theory and practice of yoga. If you ever get a chance to have an elective I would definitely recommend taking this class I have learned so much about myself and yoga, it is fantastic. One of the biggest takeaways that I have learned is never, EVER, compare yourself to other. If you’re anything like me I know how difficult it is looking at what you are doing to pictures or videos of yogi’s online, but trust me you are doing awesome!

    One thing I would recommend with the bow pose is to try to grab your ankles and not you feet. This gives you a little boost. If you can’t grab your ankles I would try one leg at a time. So lift your left leg back as far as you can grab the ankle hold it for 5 breaths and then repeat on your right side. It does take practice so don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away. Also have you tried the pigeon pose or cobbler pose before? They are my favourite and great hip stretches.

  2. Ashton Mills says:

    Thanks for your comments, compliments, and advice! I will definitely have to try grabbing my ankles during bow pose. After reviewing the article again I now realize that the woman in the picture is definitely holding her ankles, and it is in the description of the pose. Oops! I’m sure that’ll help a lot. I haven’t heard of pigeon or cobbler pose before, but I will definitely look into them. It’s possible that I’ve tried them, but I often use video resources and I find the only drawback is that I don’t learn the names of the poses very well!

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