Oh, this effing pose.
(Side note: did you know that “eff” is a valid Scrabble word, and it doesn’t mean the sixth letter of the alphabet? I’m using it more frequently now that I know it’s legit.)
I wrote about this back in June, but vaguely, without naming the pose. I’m not one to go on about my asana struggles too much in writing, mostly because it bores me (though oddly enough I do get into reading about other people’s practices), but something’s gotta give.
I realized today that I’ve been doing this pose since 2006. That’s seven years, folks. I’m not entirely sure when the assisted heel grab happened but I think it was later that same year. Other than a weird fluke in the summer of ’11, I was able to grab my heels on my own for the first time in Mysore last March, and that ability has more or less stuck with me since. And yet. And YET. Every time it’s a struggle of epic proportions. I need at least one toe-grabbing go to warm up, one try where I get one heel only to bail at the last minute, seven minutes of sitting on my feet trying to psych myself up, a heart-wrenching performance of On My Own from Les Miserables, and then and only then can I do it. Once I’m there, I’m there, no problem. No paining, and breathing is there. So it’s clearly a mental thing. Or an emotional thing.
Not currently having a local teacher who has gone through this part of the series, it’s challenging to know how to deal with this kind of a block. Ok, I’m fairly sure the answer comes from the suck-it-up school of whine management. But stiiiiiiill. I asked a vinyasa teacher if he had ever had a big mental block against a certain pose, and his response was that if there was a mental block, he just didn’t do that pose.
After I stopped laughing, I asked “No really, what do you do?” He said that a mental block meant that his body wasn’t ready for the pose. And while I do understand that (let’s not push through things we’re not ready for and then get injured), there are pah-lenty of poses I fully believed I wasn’t capable of until I made myself try (or a teacher made me try). See: drop backs, Marichyasana D, Supta Kurmasana, I could go on. And my body is demonstrably capable of this pose, and has been for years.
Sooo… have any of you gone through similar struggles? What did you do? I think I basically just need to, yes, suck it up, keep doing the pose, and not take breaks. Sometimes the fact that the answer is obvious doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Like when Sharath came over to me during backbending once and said “Bend your back.” Ha. HAAAAAA.
No one can say Ashtanga doesn’t have a sense of humor.