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Yoga technique: right is not the opposite of wrong

19 Jan 2022
by Aimée Kuntz

Ever had the answer "it depends" from a yoga teacher to your question? While you asked a question about the technique of a yoga pose? This yoga blog discusses why that is a very good answer.


Technique ≠ checklist

Checking off a checklist can give you a wonderful feeling of satisfaction. Yes, for me too. It gives a sense of having been useful and of being in control of the situation (which in turn can give a sense of calm). In short, it can give you a good feeling.


Also with yoga postures you often see that there is a need to compare them to a checklist. The intention is good: to ensure that the yoga posture does not lead to injury and to be able to experience the benefits of the yoga postures as much as possible. And due to another human aspect; yoga teachers really try their best to give good helpful instructions. In addition, biomechanics is rightly something to take into account.


Yet, a body is organic and not static. And more important, no body is the same and every body is subject to change continuously. Especially when you consider that it is not only about the physical body, but also about the energetic, emotional and intellectual body.


Aside from measure up a yoga pose to a checklist for many people (at the time) isn't feasible (even if practicing the same pose in a different form might fit well into a balanced yoga session for that particular person), it doesn't mean that this checklist ensures that the yoga posture contributes to stilling the fluctuations of the mind. And that stillness is what yoga is aiming at ('Yogaś Citta Vrtti Nirodhah', 1.2 Yoga Sutra or Patanjali). A checklist for a yoga posture can even end up in focusing mostly on the aesthetics of the yoga posture.


Please don't misunderstand me. I personally have an immense interest in technique regarding yoga postures. I believe that technique can help a great deal to make yoga postures more accessible. Precisely so that you can take into account the current proportions in someone's body, the amount of strength versus flexibility, the energy someone has at that moment, etc. The point is that there isn’t just one way.


Balanced, attuned and fitting

Instead of seeing "wrong" as the opposite of right, you can also see "right" as balanced, attuned, and fitting. If you apply this to a yoga pose, it can provide a completely different approach. With a greater chance that you will make the yoga posture more accessible, prevent injuries, be more aware in the present moment and work from your current possibilities.


It could be helpful to take a moment to realize that it is very human to worry about whether you are doing it right, or actually whether you are doing it 'wrong'. And the more subtle the energy we are working with, the easier to get that uncertainty triggered. And we all have our own reasoning and justifications about when something is good or not: our own checklist.

However, a yoga practice is only good for one thing: because you do your practice. Just simply stand on the mat and do your best. So if you prefer to keep a checklist checklist, all you'd need is if you've been on the yoga mat today. ;-)


Not a magic bullet

Although yoga has a lot of benefits, unfortunately it is not a magic bullet. Yes, it could give an immediate sense of relief. And in the long run, it has countless therapeutic benefits. However, that doesn't mean that the cause of problems you ran into is suddenly and guaranteed to be solved. Pretending it does, just makes people unfairly feel that they are doing it wrong when they don’t get the results they want.

However, by applying the yoga postures in a balanced, attuned and fitted way, you can work on it calmly. Or at least to deal with it better. Breath for breath.


Yoga is hard work. Not so much in a physical sense, as the yoga poses offer the most when they feel stable and comfortable. It is hard work because it constantly confronts us with ourselves and our ideas and assumptions, which can feel very uncomfortable. Especially because it's very humane to blow up the underlying story.

The training comes in observing those stories, feeling the effect they have on you, seeing other possible perspectives and letting them go. Both on, but certainly also off the yoga mat.


Exercise off the mat

An exercise I currently work with is observing myself as soon as I (tend to) procrastinate or feel resistance. Here too there is often a point of view that can benefit from a more balanced, attuned and fitted view. For the exercise, however, it is at first mostly about observing and listening to yourself: bringing your awareness to the moment. Because it is precisely this listening to yourself that can help you to get a sense of what the underlying cause is for it to show up and for what you actually need. Most of the time, there are many layers to be found underneath each habit.


Instead of observing (a tendency to) procrastination or resistance, you can also observe when you give yourself a reward or treat. Like eating a snack, watching an episode of your favorite series, or whatever feels like a reward/treat to you.


Yet another variation of this exercise is to continually bring awareness to moments when your self-talk is negative or when you feel “attack thoughts”. Whether this is about yourself or your circumstances; every moment when your thoughts bring you down.


Whichever variant you choose, the exercise will have a lot of effect especially if you practice it for a longer period of time. For example, for at least a week, but preferably for a month. By bringing in your awareness every time, you get a deeper insight into patterns and they will probably even change because the cause no longer gets such a grip on you.


p.s. If you are currently dealing with mental problems, before starting to practice this exercise, please first discuss with your therapist whether this exercise is suitable for you at the moment.


Outfit & Yoga Mat

At the photo I am wearing the Yoga DemocracyPretty in Pink leggings with Moonchild Draped Tank and using my favorite Moonchild yoga mat for a super grip (which helps me to activate my muscles well in my asana practice).


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