Some poses may take a while but what you learn along the way will be more valuable than achieving them

Some of the yoga poses took me 5 years or more of daily practice before I could do them. This surprises some of my students when I tell them. Typically it comes up when they start to feel frustrated that they still can’t do x y z. They say something like “I have been working at this for ages and I still can’t do it”. It often turns out that ages is actually a few months.

Marichyasana D - was very challenging for me, it took about 5 years I think

Marichyasana D – was very challenging for me, it took about 5 years I think

I get that they are frustrated, I have been there. We live in a world that changes fast. When you first start practicing yoga you will see big changes in your flexibility and strength. The more you practice the more you will see these shifts will continue but may become more subtle at times. It’s not that the body isn’t changing, it’s just that some of these poses ask a lot and require lots of gradual shifts; and if it is skill and/or strength orientated it also requires lots and lots of repetition.

Many people are more flexible than I was when I began my yoga journey but I was never very tight either. Having taught hundreds of people over the years I would say I was about average.

When I began my Ashtanga journey 11 years ago I looked at many of the poses and wondered how they were even possible for anyone let alone me. I sneaked a look at second series and thought it was something that was beyond my body, I never imagined that I would be practicing full second series as I am now. As such I never imaged I would learn third series but it is now pretty much inevitable that I will begin that journey at some point. My body continues to amaze me and yours can too.

Helen doing yoga pose supta kurmasana

Supta Kurmasana – sleeping tortoise took about 7 years before I could do this without help

Over the years more things became possible. I came to realize with consistent practice my body would change. Sometimes it feels like no changes are happening and then all of a sudden there is a big shift. It’s easy to get obsessed with achieving asana which, as I said in my last post, is just another form of spiritual materialism. Over the years I realized that my life didn’t change that much when I managed to get into an asana. I also learnt that although obsessing over achieving asana is unnecessary I have to care a little bit in order to do a challenging practice. If I don’t care at all then I don’t take myself to my edge and miss out on many of the wonderful lessons which that brings to my life. So you need some striving and some surrender and along the way you learn the valuable skills of patience and humility.

In all honesty I can often help a student to get there a little quicker than I did myself. I have learnt a lot along the way which I can now share. The important part however is never how long it takes to get there but what you learn along the way.

Enjoy your journey…

Are there any yoga poses that you once thought were impossible that you can now do? What has working toward a yoga pose taught you about yourself or life?

About Helen Aldred

Helen Aldred practices and teaches ashtanga yoga in Liverpool. She loves to share and discuss yoga, as well as health and wellbeing. Follow her on twitter and join Ashtanga yoga Liverpool's Facebook community .

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