Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Practice Makes It Possible

Posted by terrepruitt on December 10, 2015

I’ve been thinking lately about when a student once asked me what exercises to do so that s/he would be able to do yoga.  My reply was to just do the poses.  I explained that doing the pose in the way that s/he could at that moment is the way to “do yoga”.  I got the feeling that this answer was not satisfactory, because the look on her/his face.  Then the following week after class, the student had a little booklet.  This person said that her/his spouse was given the booklet by their doctor and was told to do the exercises.  The question being asked was what exercise could the student do that would enable her/him to do yoga.  I softly sighed and took the booklet and flipped through the pages.  I pointed to the exercise that were pretty much like some of the poses we had just done.  I suggested s/he try them.  I’ve been thinking about this because of two things:  One, yoga is not about DOING a specific pose.  This is very difficult for people to accept.  And, two, I think I will start suggesting one pose that will help with all poses when asked this type of question.

I’ve been thinking about how yoga is not about “doing a pose”.  Doing yoga is so much more.  And I am specifically just talking about the asana here.  In regards to do the asana the way to do them is by doing them.  As we do them, they might get to be more than what it was when we started.  An asana is not like running a marathon.  One needs to plan and prepare for a marathon.  One needs to train to run a marathon.  One needs to build up to being able to run 26 miles.  But even the training for a marathon consists of running.  It consists of DOING the thing it is you are going to be doing.

Warming up the body with easier poses or very highly modified poses before doing the most challenging pose is recommended.  But doing other exercises so that you can do yoga is not necessarily the point of the postures.  Part of the beauty of yoga is that you do what you can when you can and you continue to do it until you can do more.  Then you continue to do what you can do, until you can do more.  You keep practicing until you think you have it perfect, then you do more.  “More” could be matching the perfect pranayama to the pose.  It could be concentrating so well that you can sense “every” muscle required to do that pose.  It could be making your mind quite.  It could be moving ever so slightly while in the “perfection” of that pose to see what it is like when you move a little more forward/back/up/down.  There is always “more” to a pose.

I was really trying to convey this to the student, but that was not the answer s/he wanted to hear.  S/he wanted to know what to do so that s/he could get into the poses and do the poses.  I know there are things in my life I am impatient for and I just want the end result without having to do/wait for it.  But with yoga there really is no end.  It is like life it is the journey.

But regardless, when I get this question again, I might just reply with the most challenging of all poses . . . . corpse pose or shavasana.  I might just suggest that the student try practicing shavasana for three to five minutes.  I think that might actually help.  Once the practice of being still (in the body) and being quiet (in the mind) is achieved or at least better understood, then maybe the answer about doing yoga to do yoga will be understood.

I’ve heard many people say there aren’t flexible enough to do yoga, well, you do yoga to GET flexible.

So, what do you think about doing something in order to do it?

2 Responses to “Practice Makes It Possible”

  1. Liv said

    I loved this post. It took me sooooooo long to “get” everything you talk about here. From going to seeing an asana as something to be conquered to seeing it as a process and being able to enjoy the process even if I didn’t completely own the pose yet. I think for some people they will never accept that there isn’t something they can be doing in order to do be better at yoga. It took me taking YTT to get there. 😛 Besides shavasana, I think plank is a good one to suggest too. It builds lots of strength and also patience. 🙂


    • Thank you. I am so happy you loved this post. It is something many of us struggle with in many things — not just yoga. Yoga is just one of the things that it is easy to point it out with. I always remind my students that yoga is a practice. And, yes, there are always going to be people that want to run marathons before they even learn to crawl or walk. Some will learn that it is a process and some will not. We all have different paths to crawl/walk/run. 🙂

      Plank would be one of those poses that someone would ask me what exercise to do so that they can do plank . . . instead of just doing a modified plank or even a two-second plank. But plank is a GREAT pose.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I am sorry I didn’t reply sooner. Last week when I saw your comment, I was excited because you were not gone yet, so then I started e-mailing you and got distracted away from my blog!


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