Teachers often say that the postures you dread are the postures that you need the most. I think that is probably true. Maybe the dread is your body’s way of alerting you to pay special attention to the posture. Or maybe it is just to give you that little extra challenge to overcome in your practice. Either way, if you dislike a posture, there is probably a reason and it is worth the effort to give that posture a little bit of extra attention.
The posture I dread is camel. I know a lot of people love that posture, but it gives me the shivers. By the time I have done the sit up and have gotten into position, I am already dizzy. I find it such a vulnerable posture – my belly and neck are exposed, I am arching and looking backwards, and the stretch in my neck makes it hard for me to maintain my breath. I sometimes have to pull up early in the first set, but I can usually make it through the posture in the second set, when my knees are set wider apart and the arch in my back feels less constraining.
I have been thinking about why this posture is so challenging for me, and I think it may have two causes. The first is I have a narrow ribcage, so perhaps that makes my breathing more constricted in the posture, which causes me to feel less in control. In that case, the posture is surely one that I need to help loosen up that extra space for my lungs. The second reason may be more emotional. They say that camel can release a lot of stress and anxiety and I tend to hold onto my stress with two hands! Another good reason why this may be the posture that I truly need.
Here’s what I will do. I will pledge to focus on camel for the next 10 classes. Not just get through it, but focus on it, push myself into it, stay in it, and see what improvement I can make. If I make some progress, I can try again for another 10 classes. Maybe after that, I will need to move onto the next dreaded posture – standing separate leg head to knee.
Fellow yogis, do you have a posture that you dread?