namaste, nemesis

Whether or not you've taken yoga before, you're probably familiar with the concept that "the exercises (or yoga asanas) that you struggle with the most, are in fact the ones you need the most." 

During yoga teacher training, we had a funny discussion about such poses. I happen to have a highly flexible back, allowing me to comfortably practice certain advanced poses that probably look challenging. (This certainly does not make me an advanced yogii, it's just the way my lower back is built.) When commiserating together about our most hated poses, everyone was shocked when I revealed that my nemesis is Pyramid pose. As a basic side stretch and forward bend, this pose is meant to be relaxing and even restorative. Well guess what? Pretzel has tight hamstrings.
My nemesis - Pyramid Pose.
This got me thinking about other aspects of yoga that might be frustrating for some, and in turn, how much more we need to embrace those challenges. The very things that might annoy us or feel inconvenient about our practice might be our bodies best way of indicating what we actually need.

For example: outside of a time commitment or emergency, some yoga students habitually leave before or during savasana (the resting period at the end of yoga class). Savasana is not only an important time of rest for the body (the spine stretches and relaxes horizontally after each practice, allowing muscle-memory to set in), but even more so, it is meant to be a time for a mental break, prayer, introspection, meditation or nothing at all. Yes, savasana is a challenge for many. Many people are uncomfortable with silence or self-reflection. But how much more does the central nervous system need that time of true relaxation if a mind is always wandering or a body always fidgeting?

Next time you're in savasana, maybe use that time to consider your practice. Not just the asanas, but the whole yoga experience. From the time you pack your mat into the car to head to the studio, to the moment you unfurl your spine into your savasana, what was your subconscious mind or body trying to tell you? Did you road-rage on the way to practice? Are you holding tension in your shoulders or hips? Was the grocery list running through your head during warm-up or were you distracted at your yoga neighbor's stuffy nose? Whatever physical or mental negativity or distraction you're feeling, consider the possibility of making room for improvement. By acknowledging our weaknesses, inflexibility or impatience, we might just learn to cope with their sources. (Even if it is just a stupid Pyramid).

Namaste, nemesis pose.