Saturday, May 12, 2007

No Really, It'll Be Fun

In Shooter, Vietnam war photographer David Hume Kennerly says that his most frightening wartime experiences were often preceded by a helicopter pilot saying, "Let me show you what this baby can do."

Yoga doesn't compare to being shot at, but the most frightening thing a yoga teacher can say is, "No, really, it'll be fun." Until that moment it had probably not occurred to me that it might or might not be fun, you know? I don't know the poses. You tell me we're going to do a handstand with our feet on the wall and as far as I know, it's no biggie. (Not like doing a real handstand at least.)

(Photograph stolen from web site of person who can actually do yoga. The difference between what she is doing and what we were doing is that she is on her forearms, and we were on our hands.)

Add the phrase, "No, really, it'll be fun," and I know instantly that this pose is going to kick my ass.

Which it did. We were supposed to hold it for 60 seconds. I lasted 30 the first time and 50 seconds the second time. We went immediately from the handstand to a sixty second downward facing dog.

The teacher said that downward facing dog is a resting pose.

The person who defined downward dog as 'resting' was probably the person who originally created the yoga definition of 'fun.'


Blogger Ted said...

(Not like doing a real handstand at least.)

Did your instructor say it was going to be easier than a full handstand? Because when I was taking yoga, the instructor said that pose is harder than a handstand, which matched my experience.

May 12, 2007 5:08 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

Well, I don't think I could do a handstand without falling and I could do this without falling. The balance is easier, because of the wall. My instructor didn't say it would or would not be easier than a handstand.

I can't say I did the pose well...

May 12, 2007 5:58 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

I meant a full handstand where you're right up against the wall for balance. The hardest part for most people is getting into the handstand, but once you're there, you're balanced in a vertical line. The pose you're talking about, with hips bent at a right angle so your feet are flat against the wall, might be easier to get into, but it's harder to stay in.

May 12, 2007 6:14 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

Ted, that does make sense. I think it would have been easier to do a straight handstand against the wall. But we walked up the wall from downward dog, so in that sense, this may have been easier than kicking into a handstand.

I don't know, but I suspect that as I keep taking yoga I'll find out. I do know that I couldn't hold this pose for sixty seconds yet.

May 12, 2007 11:58 PM  
Blogger Adrienne Martini said...

Have you tried doing the Dog with bent knees? It can help you "get" what it feels like when you can put your heels firmly on the ground, which is tricky if you have tight hamstrings. Ask me how I know how tricky tight hamstrings are...

Also, has your instructor done partner Dogs, where you wrap a tie around your lower pelvis and your partner pulls back on it? (Easier to see done that to explain, frankly.)

And, again, two cents.

May 13, 2007 1:58 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

I've done both those things in yoga. They helped a lot, although I'm still really far from putting my heals down in downward dog.

Hey, it's all about practice.

May 13, 2007 10:21 PM  
Blogger Beth Adele Long said...

Down dog has almost become a resting pose for me, lo these many years later, but for a long time I wanted to burst out in snide laughter when the teacher said, "And now let's rest in downward facing dog."

Child's pose is still a LOT more restful!

May 14, 2007 10:06 AM  

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