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Superior Yogi: It’s Not What You Suppose

Superior Yogi: It’s Not What You Suppose


This entry was posted on Jan 18, 2024 by Charlotte Bell.

Upavistha Konasana

Some years in the past, I led some yoga college students by means of a slightly prolonged sequence of leg-stretching asanas primarily based on Supta Padanghustasana (Supine Huge Toe Pose). At the moment, I had all the time ended the sequence with a one-legged model of Yoganidrasana (ankles behind the top). In fact, most individuals in my courses really feel fairly versatile if their foot finally ends up inside just a few inches of their faces. And truthfully, that’s actually fairly versatile in comparison with the typical particular person on the road. Some may even assume that’s a sign of being a complicated yogi.

The orientation and depth of many individuals’s hip sockets won’t ever permit an Instagram star expression of the pose. I’m one of many few folks whose hip joints are amenable to Yoganidrasana, and to poses equivalent to Padmasana (Lotus Pose). I don’t take explicit delight on this; it’s not one thing I earned by means of arduous work. It’s merely a genetic variation I inherited from my gymnast father.

Yoganidrasana and the SI Joint

The directions for transferring into Yoganidrasana may be complicated to college students, in all probability as a result of the pose has nothing in frequent with on a regular basis motion. Once I demonstrated Yoganidrasana, it was for readability. It was, actually, useful to display the model that most individuals can accomplish. This includes bending one knee towards the chest, putting the ankle within the bend of the alternative elbow and drawing the leg in towards the chest. As I supplied the choice—considerably jokingly—of slipping the ankle behind the top, it occurred to me to do what I’ve typically accomplished: Show.

For every week previous to this class, I’d been battling sacroiliac (SI) ache and sciatica. I attribute this to my genetically unfastened joints, together with years of working towards alignment directions that I later discovered to be inappropriate. As well as, youthful enthusiasm impressed me to attempt each “superior” pose I might pressure myself into again within the Nineteen Eighties. Consequently, my SI joint has turn out to be fragile and unstable.

Trashing Your SI Joint Does Not Make Anybody an Superior Yogi

My SI joint is the proverbial canary within the coal mine for me. On one hand, it’s fairly helpful; it provides me quick suggestions when my alignment is ever-so-slightly unhealthy. I’ve realized volumes about wholesome SI-joint alignment from dwelling with this extraordinarily delicate and communicative joint. However, my SI joint misaligns simply and turns excruciatingly painful on the slightest provocation.

So this time, once I had the choice to display Yoganidrasana, I selected the prudent path and opted out. By opting out, I saved myself SI hassle. However extra essential, I walked my speak. I might by no means encourage a scholar to push previous SI and sciatica ache. The one motivation I can consider for sliding my foot behind my head can be to show that I might do it, to indicate my college students what an “superior yogi” I’m.

Why Class Ranges Don’t Work for Yoga

I’ve lengthy advocated for a special definition of the “superior” yogi. Outlined class ranges (Stage 1, 2, 3 and 4) appear synthetic, limiting and inaccurate to me. Some folks come to yoga with our bodies that can do virtually each pose on the primary day. For instance, some folks can push up into Urdva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow) with straight arms (the requirement for getting into some Stage 3 courses) with no restrictions. However, a yogi with 30 years’ expertise might have been born with extra secure joints. Extra secure joints will typically not permit arms to be straight in Upward Bow. This particular person wouldn’t have the ability to attend an “superior” class. These parameters don’t appear helpful to me.

What Is an Superior Yogi?

For me, a complicated yogi is one who has a two-way communication together with his/her physique—talking and listening. A complicated yogi has the expertise to know when he/she is simply too exhausted, injured or fragile to observe a specific pose. An skilled yogi is aware of that the diploma to which you’ll stretch, the variety of Chaturangas (yoga push-ups) you are able to do, the size of time you’ll be able to keep in Headstand, or having straight arms in Urdva Dhanurasana doesn’t matter within the grand scheme. A complicated yogi’s ego is in verify sufficient to know that what your physique can or can’t do will not be a measure of your dedication to yoga. The mature yoga practitioner is aware of that simply since you can do a specific pose doesn’t imply that you just ought to.

Donna Farhi teaches that superior yogis might select to decide out of doing essentially the most “superior” variations of poses, slightly than push themselves to the purpose of damage. Superior yogis are the individuals who know that yoga will not be about efficiency, however about freedom from the necessity to carry out. I’ve to agree. My determination to decide out of Yoganidrasana tastes way more of freedom than wedging my ankle behind my head ever might.

About Charlotte Bell

Charlotte Bell found yoga in 1982 and commenced instructing in 1986. Charlotte is the writer of Aware Yoga, Aware Life: A Information for On a regular basis Observe and Yoga for Meditators, each printed by Rodmell Press. Her third guide is titled Hip-Wholesome Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Information to Defending the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Ache (Shambhala Publications). She writes a month-to-month column for CATALYST Journal and serves as editor for Yoga U On-line. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte performs oboe and English horn within the Salt Lake Symphony and folks sextet Pink Rock Rondo, whose DVD received two Emmy awards in 2010.



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