Practice, perseverance and patience. These are the three P's, and according to Jivamukti king Stewart Gilchrist, all that we need to continue on our own personal yoga journeys . Now I challenge that, because I think you also need a nice O (outfit) a pot of C (cash) and in particular, a large pair of B's (your choice!) to get yourself into some of the more challenging postures!
The lovely, loyal yogi's who come to my classes have been struggling with Bakasana, (Crow) for several weeks now. Each week I go home from class and either get straight onto the internet or dive into my extensive yoga bookshelf to gather more information so I can help them in their quest to float up into this slightly restrictive arm balance. Now I say restrictive because although it feels great when you have finally got the balance just right and you manage to actually find yourself tilted forward enough that your toes are suddenly aloft, it does not give you that free soaring feeling that perhaps firefly pose does or the elusive handstand. It actually feels a bit rounded and crunched at first giving you the kind of "Is that it? I'm not sure! Am I there?" sort of reaction. It is hard and actually, a bit scary.
Have you ever done that thing where you drink half a can of coke and then attempt to balance it on the edge of its rounded base. You take tiny sips to get just the right amount of liquid inside the can and hey presto it balances perfectly at a 45 degree angle, but not before you get the panicked feeling as you gingerly take your hand away, that it is actually going to topple over at the last minute leaving a big brown sugary stain on the carpet. Well that is Bakasana. Hopefully you're not worried about a stain (!) but you have that "Oh My God, if I tilt any further forward I am going to fall flat on my face and break my nose" kind of moment!
As a practitioner you know how far you want to challenge yourself to get into your poses but as a teacher you have to be guided by each individual, setting their own challenges and boundaries. So here is the thing, do you encourage someone to keep going when they obviously feel wary but you know from watching their practice over the weeks and months that they have the physical aptitude to get into the pose, if they just stopped being such a weed?!
Did I say that out loud?!
That's not very all loving yoga teacher is it?!
I know! I know! I shouldn't think stuff like that, but as a former dance teacher I sometimes want to break free from that "challenge yourself, work to your own personal edge" thing and instead yell "Oh for Gods sake, stop faffing around and bloody do it!"
It took me ages to get the hang of crow and now I can float into it fairly easily from Garland pose and even from three pointed headstand too - I am bragging now but I can never do that good fancy stuff so I was totally thrilled that day! But even now I feel that maybe I am missing something. Should my arms be straighter, should my hips be higher, should it feel a bit more bloody comfortable at least?!
So those who are just getting to grips with crow pose, please persevere. Even when it feels like your elbows shouldn't bend that way or that there will be bruises on your triceps or that you like the way your face looks with this nose, one day when you least expect it, something will just click in your mind and then your body and you will wonder why it all seemed so difficult as you suck in your belly button and float forwards on strong arms with your pointed toes hovering a foot off the mat! And then you will probably laugh and fall flat back down in your bum!
Stewart is right of course, Practice, perseverance and above all patience are key, and not only for the practitioner but mostly, from re reading my blog, for the slightly whacky, but ever so passionate and committed yoga teacher!