Have you ever had this experience? Everything is going well in yoga class; you are feeling great, maybe even blissed out, when the teacher calls out a particular pose. It’s the one you hate. For whatever reason, fear, lack of flexibility or strength, you can never quite get into the pose and are left frustrated every time you try it. The pose is your yoga nemesis. It may be an inversion like headstand, handstand at the wall or even a seemingly simple pose like baddha konasana, bound angle, only your knees are stuck fifteen inches off the floor.
Rest assured you are not the only one with a yoga nemesis pose. Even experienced yogis have poses that they find particularly challenging, if not outright frustrating. However, long time yogis have also developed some strategies for working with their nemesis. Here are some ideas to help you do the same.
Check Your Attitude during Yoga Practice
The word nemesis comes from Greek mythology. Nemesis was the goddess of divine retribution, usually directing vengeance at those who engaged in acts of hubris. So, to keep your nemesis from striking out at you, start with an attitude check. When the teacher calls out this pose, do you immediately fill your head with negative thoughts? If so, you are on the way to a confrontational meeting with your nemesis.
Instead, remember that every time you practice an asana, it is a new experience. Today’s pose will be different from yesterday’s pose. Your goal is not to conquer the pose each time you attempt it, but to make some amount of progress or gain greater understanding. Approach it with an open mind.
Embrace Your Enemy
Chances are, you are not working with your yoga nemesis pose as part of your home practice. When there is a pose you are having trouble with, start making it part of your daily practice, and get to know it. See if you can identify what parts of the pose are most challenging for you. With repeated effort, you will start to make some progress. Acknowledge that you are letting go of whatever is holding you back.
There will always be challenges and obstacles in your yoga practice. Even when it seems that there is a lack of progress, know that every step and effort along the yogic path is worthwhile. The goal of yoga is not to physically master each asana, but to align the body, mind and breath. Understanding your nemesis, if not actually making it your friend, is part of this process.