I have a nemesis pose. It is called the boat, or more correctly in Sanskrit Navasana. With full strength and integration of the core it is supposed to look something like this – a well supported boat with it’s keel in the water, and it’s bow and stern held strong above the waves.
Mine however feels and (probably looks) something more like this sinking ship below:
Let me be honest here. I really hate this pose with a passion. I do my best to avoid it wherever possible. I generally never practice it when I am immersed in a self practice at home. I get angry when people throw it at me in led classes. It devastates my core muscles, and challenges my hip flexors and spinal extensor strength like little else. I find it hard to breathe deeply with my abdominal organs bulging. It’s not the shape of the posture that is challenging for me it is the sheer strength required to resist gravity. After having my second baby, and being sliced open in my lower belly, most of these abdominal muscles are completely without sensation. Numb, tingly. I totally sink in body, mind and spirit when I practice this.
I have realised that in order to progress and deepen my yoga practice I need to come face to face with my nemesis. I just simply can’t avoid practicing Navasana anymore. It is a ‘gateway’ posture if you like, one that needs to be refined in order to move towards more challenging asana.
In our yoga practice we usually gravitate to a particular style of yoga, or type of practice which allows the body to feel the path of least resistance. I love backbends and my body finds them easy and enjoyable, hence I practice them a lot. But I despise core work, probably because after giving birth for the second time a year ago – I just really don’t enjoy the hard work involved in building up my core strength yet again. But the weakness through my midsection from pregnancy, is actually causing me to experience major roadblocks in my practice. It is also a contributing factor in my recent bout of minor injuries. And so for that reason, I am starting to really focus on all the postures I don’t enjoy in order to bring my body back into a place of harmony and balance.
So, what is your nemesis pose? And more importantly, why are you avoiding it? For some people certain postures trigger tension from old injuries and traumas. Others of us like our practice to be easy, enjoyable and to show our body’s capabilities off to their best ability. But you need to ask yourself carefully, am I avoiding a posture because it is structurally bad for my body? (that is practicing with intelligence). Or am I avoiding practicing it because it simply doesn’t look and feel as pretty as my other postures (that is practicing with fear). Let’s be honest, what we enjoy practicing is most probably NOT what we need. That is why I often tell people who only practice physically challenging and sweaty level 3 classes, that they should go and sit very still in a Yin or Restorative class and pay attention to all that internal chatter.
We had a great discussion in class today about nemesis postures. I invite you to share with me your nemesis pose in a quiet moment before or after class and I will help guide you with an understanding of the difficulties (structurally, energetically, and emotionally) and together we can formulate a practice that will help you achieve a more balanced and well rounded experience of asana. I am always around the studio before and after classes, and am more than happy to help you.
Will you join me for the challenge?