Questions asked by yoga students

  • What stops us from doing some asana in their full and mastered forms?
  • Why can we do some asana more easily than other asana?
  • How can we master yoga asana intelligently and without causing injury?

Answers I have based on my own experience

  • A dedicated and consistent practice over a very long time. Pattabhi Jois says: “Do regular practice and all is coming.” Patanjli’s Sutra 1.14: Such a practice is firmly established only if one engages in it seriously and respectfully over a long uninterrupted period with a positive attitude and eagerness. (Sa tu dirghakalanairantaryasatkaradarasevitodrdhabhumih). There is always the tendency to start practice with enthusiasm and energy, and a desire for sudden results. But the continuing pressures of everyday life and the enormous resistance of the mind encourages us to succumb to human weaknesses. All of this is understandable; we all have these human tendencies. There is a need to approach the practice soberly with a positive, self-disciplined attitude and with a long term view toward eventual success.
  • Understanding that postural imbalance leads to muscular imbalance, and muscular imbalance can limit movement and function in the joints. Perfect balanced posture is the result of uniformly balanced contraction and relaxation of opposing muscle forces around a joint. What is postural imbalance? Here is one example of postural imbalance: Sway back = excessive curve in the lower back. Flat back = reduced or no curve in the lower back. Normal back = a curve inwards in the lower back. Many postural abnormalities were either predisposed from birth or shaped by our upbringing or are learned behaviours. Many postural changes are also due to the body’s attempt to find balance following a trauma, accident or injury. Emotional, or even psychic, traumas can also create postural change. The imbalance occurs because one muscle is tighter or weaker than the other.
  • Recognizing that one’s genetics limits or enhances one’s ability to do specific asana. There are genetic differences which account for the reason that there are poses we can and cannot do with grace and ease. Some body types back bend easily but do not necessarily forward bend or do leg behind head without strain. Others do the opposite. And then other bodies have all joint movements on line.