Following directions shouldn’t be that difficult, but people often don’t do it. Remember tests in high school? Often, while handing out the test the teacher would say, please read the instructions. Listed in the middle of the instructions would be those 5 extra credit points for putting a star by your name. How many of you felt stupid for missing those extra credit points?
Yoga and group fitness classes are the same, but now those instructions aren’t giving us extra credit. Those special instructions are there to keep you from getting hurt. Each day I’m humbled by my inability to do Dandayamana-Janushirasana (Standing head to knee pose). Despite all the strength I once felt confident I had, I cannot maintain balance on a locked left leg with my weight equally distributed in my left foot. My hips lack the flexibility to kick out through my heel with my right leg to keep both hips square. When I first started yoga, I was stubborn. I would hyper-extend my left leg keeping the weight in my heel, my hips sinking into my hip socket. Despite my inability to square my hips and kick through my right heel,
I would still bend my elbows down. I was determined to touch my forehead to my knee. All I did was create a cramp in my hip that would never go away. I was receiving 0% benefit from the posture. In fact, I was actually doing damage to my body.
Once I realized this, I backed off. I let go of my pride. Now, I often do not even kick my right leg out. I focus only on locking my left leg, keeping my body weight equally distributed along my left foot, trying to rise out of my waist using my always growing core, glute, and quad strength. I’m now determined to receive 100% benefit of that posture. Every now and then I surprise myself; not only do I maintain a locked knee, but I can also kick out. It doesn’t happen every day, but it’s happening more and more. One day, I know I will go to tuck my chin and then surprise myself when my forehead touches that knee. However, this will never come without that first step. I have to keep my left leg locked!
The next time you take a take a class think about those basic steps you might be skipping over. We all have pride. We all want to be the best. But remember when you skip over those simple steps, you’re that student that didn’t put the star by your name.