Alignment / Contemplations / For beginners

Standing Splits are the Pits

Photo (6)

Recently, I called Double Pigeon my least favorite pose. But in fact, I have more than one most-loathed asana. I’m not crazy about Twisting Balancing Half Moon, and Camel makes me feel like I might die. Standing Split exists in the rank of poses that fill me with discomfort and dislike.

Last Sunday I took a class where the teacher had us move into Standing Split. My teacher said something about the hamstring stretch this pose emphasizes. It was one of my light-bulb-how-did-I-never-think-about-this-until-now moments. My shocked thoughts shouted: other people feel this in their hamstrings???!!!???!!!?

I have fallen arches on both feet. Practically flat. I didn’t even know until about two years ago, but it explained a lot, like why a light running routine quickly paved the way for a stress fracture. Since then, I’ve just had to learn how to live with it, move differently, know that I will feel certain things from certain activities. Balancing poses (especially when several are stacked upon each other) are trying for me. When it comes to Standing Split, or Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana, yeah, sure my standing leg hamstrings are tight. But I feel this pose all along the bottom of my standing foot. The sensation always goes past what’s bearable.

Another teacher recently said to me: injuries are blessings in disguise.

It’s true-our injuries can teach us. They reacquaint us with our own bodies and present-moment-experience. And as a teacher, they serve as a reminder that everyone’s physical experience is unique. When I see a student unable to square his hips or drop her back heel down in a Warrior pose, I must consider that it’s not that they didn’t hear what I said, or aren’t willing to try, but perhaps there is a modification I need to offer in a moment I never realized I should.

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