Friday, November 6, 2009

same pose, (different side) different day

This is a Guest Muse by Kay Burnett:

In my yoga practice, the balance poses are a particular challenge, the left and right sides being very different. Some days a simple tree pose is effortless, other days the same pose is impossible! What is going on? That is a big question for me and one I try to experience when I am practicing but now and here I'm willing to put words around, thus analyze it.

The focus of the balance for me, besides the basic challenge of standing on one foot, is to allow my tailbone to drop, to allow my hips to level, to allow my shoulders to drop and to extend up and out of the core pelvis, waist and hips. I find that on my "good" side, I can often get to the point where I am feeling the bits lining up. On my "bad" side, the balance alone is a huge challenge and often in a class, the pose is over before I've gotten to my goal of feeling aligned. In my classes with Brooks, I am encouraged to take the time I need to complete the pose and when I feel that I am close, I will take her encouragement to heart.

My problem (as I perceive it) is a knee that does not always respond as my brain asks. It is lacking cartilage and is often stiff and painful. And then the opposing hip comes into the situation. And so the story goes!

I can most often balance equally on both sides if I choose to modify the pose to a foot to the opposite calf. It feels more stable on the "good" side and I can hold it for some time on both sides. Since I can often balance in a fuller pose, with foot to thigh, on the "good" side, I feel the challenge to even the sides. This is where the wobblies get extreme. I have learned not to be agitated or angry with myself for not getting it but I continue to try to complete the fuller pose on both sides.

We want to balance the balance -- same on both sides. I always hear, do the same thing on this side that you did on the other. And when that is accomplished, it does feel like success!

Does it make a difference if we start on our easy side or our hard side? I have a tendency to start on my hard side, go to the easy side and sometimes come back to the hard side one more time.

And what I would like to do at some point, is carry the balance story into life events in addition to yoga. How do we balance in our lives, on both sides, our own desires and realities of what is good for us with the demands and expectations of those others in our lives?


Brooks Hall said...

Thanks, Kay!
I enjoy reading your thoughts on balance, and I like the questions you raised, too. Yes, how to balance personal needs and what others want from us is a good thing to look at. For me, that question is answered by looking to myself, and if I'm feeling depleted then it's time to plan something that will help me to "fill up." When I feel rejuvinated giving to others feels great, but if I am in need myself it's a challenge. I put effort into making sure that I'm in a good place: it helps my teaching.

Kay Burnett said...

Thanks for giving me a "guest muse" spot on your blog, Brooks. We have had good conversations about the effects of yoga on many parts of life but putting something in writing is a good exercise for me and I hope others can find interest as well.

Laura said...

Such good questions. First, I have to say...stop labeling one side the good side and the other the bad side. I've recently become aware of this "judgmental" attitude toward my limbs that are struggling with strength. I caught myself at it at PT right ankle isn't is simply different from my left ankle. The nerve impulses to that side aren't as isn't my ankles just is.

It may be the same for you in balance poses...instead of expecting them to feel the same, be the same...expect the opposite to be true. Each side has an offering to teach...the messages are different...that's a gift. It is the same off the mat. Our needs, our desires, our responsibilities shift throughout each day...each hour...each minute. I think the best thing to do is step into the pose of the moment and just listen to what needs to shift...even the tiniest bit to allow for you to arrive at your center. Expect change and then flow with them compassionately.

I hope this helps.


Tom Bailey said...

This is one of the poses I am challenged with this exact way too, I just look at it as pratice and put my foot far enough down so it feels comfortable and give up my tree ego.

I have nearly had my "tree" tip over a few times trying to get my foot higher up. It can be an entertaining thing to try.


cris said...

Hi Brook, I agree what laura said. We have 2 sides more or less different, but finally we are just one.
For me balancing poses are more building an inner strength in my pelvis than the fact of balancing. Doing Virkshasana I feel I my determination in life more than my balance,growing.

Kay Burnett said...

to laura & cris--
the reason I switched from referring to my "good" & "bad" side to my "easy" & "hard" side was exactly the points you make. For many of us, having a challenge to reach beyond our current limits, is a motivation to improve. The extra repetition on the hard side is a practice strategy to lead me to balance.