Most yogis have asanas*(Yoga postures)* that they enjoy more then others. With such a huge selection of movements, ranging from forward bends and twists to backbends, lateral movements, balances and inverted poses, there is a lot to chose from. I always tell my students how they will learn more about themselves though from the poses they dislike then the ones they enjoy, and this is very true. We tend to learn more in life from experiences that challenge us and few things worth having, come easy.

The problem with a home practice is that we often tend to focus on our favourite poses and leave out the ones that we find more challenging. I am guilty of this, but recently am trying to push myself by practicing poses such as Upavista Konasana and Hanumanasana lot more. I used to love backbends and in my twenties my back was both strong and very flexible, but after many years of inconsistent practicing in my thirties, I now am struggling to find a sense of ease in my backbends. I used to love the Camel pose but now feel my thighs pulling and my spine being unwilling to bend too far back.

The secret always is to find the balance between striving to improve on the pose and the surrender into the movement along with the acceptance of how our body feels in that moment, on that day. Last week I was working a lot on chest opening movements and on a graceful flow sequence with Ustrasana/The Camel Pose. I included a flowing movement with variations of the lunge pose, using hands in the prana mudra, arms opening up wide from the chest on the inhalation and then gently wrapping around the body on the exhalation. All of this worked powerfully on the heart energy centre. After an hour these postures and a few gentle breathing techniques, I suddenly felt a wave of unexpected emotion well up from within me. I felt strangely vulnerable in that moment, exposed. I just wanted to cry. And so I did. I was alone and had the freedom to just release it all for a few moments. Afterwards I lay in the child pose, completely spent, humbled and in a warm embrace of self compassion.

That’s the thing with yoga. It is not just about physical movements. It is not just exercise you are doing and while we may be focusing so much on perfecting the physical pose, getting the alignment right and holding it long enough, other things happen. Healing starts to occur. We shed layers of ourselves, releasing emotion that has backed up over the years. Issues we think we dealt with from our past suddenly rear their head again and we are forced to confront them, breathe through them, release and surrender some more. It never really ends, this healing process.

Life, like healing and my Hanumanasana, is a work in progress.

Photo by Anton Darius | @theSollers on Unsplash