Enjoy the journey
Desperate to get into a particular yoga posture? Take your time and enjoy the journey. By Diane Ashfield
If you have a yoga pose that's your nemesis or an asana you're itching to get into, you'll probably want to accomplish it as soon as possible. It's exactly the same when we go on holiday, we just want to click our fingers and we're there – on a lounger by the pool, sunscreen in one hand, cocktail in the other! We don't want all the fuss of travelling to the airport, checking in our luggage, trundling through security and getting on the plane, even through it's all part and parcel of our journey to get to where we want to go.
When working towards a challenging pose, we often try and cut corners to reach our destination quickly without enjoying the full experience, so I'd like you to imagine that your dream yoga posture is like taking a long-haul trip to Australia. Sometimes our impatience to get to the airport can make us take shortcuts – of course, this doesn't work in our favour and can be risky – we might come across a road closure, get lost and miss our flight altogether. Similarly, being impatient with our yoga practice and rushing to get into an asana can cause us to overstretch – resulting in pulled or strained muscles – so planning your journey is important.
Firstly, can you afford this trip? Heading off to the other side of the world would affect your bank balance far more than a weekend in Brussels, so would travelling there damage your purse strings as well as your hamstrings? How badly do you want to go there, and also do you have the required resources? Don't expect to travel to Australia if you don't have a valid passport or visa! In comparison, are you desperate to get into headstand but have neck issues? Be realistic. You might only get as far as Brighton, but it's still closer to Australia than Glasgow.
Let's start packing – what do you need for this journey? You'll probably want to check the weather conditions in Oz first before you pack, so research your posture and decide what props you might need to pack as well as your mat. This could include blocks or a blanket for extra padding, a belt, or maybe you need a chair or a heavy piece of furniture for support or balance. Have everything you need in your suitcase just in case. Think of these props as your entourage!
I know you're excited to get going, but before you board the plane, double-check that you have the correct currency – discovering you only have Euros in your wallet won't get you very far when you need Aussie Dollars. On our yoga travels it's important to warm up and stretch the muscles we need for our final destination. If working towards King Pigeon (Raja Kapotasana) we will require hip opening exercises as well as back bending warm-ups to prepare the spine, so it's pointless spending time working on balance or building on arm strength.
Expect delays! This journey is long-haul, so we will be making a few stops along the way – be patient with your body and be prepared for hold-ups and traffic jams. Try to remain calm in the queue for Passport Control, focus on your breathing and don't forget that just like air traffic controllers, our bodies might suddenly decide to go on strike! Strap yourself, in, sit back and enjoy the ride!
Hoorah! If you've finally touched down in Oz it's time to check in and explore your new surroundings. Your hotel manager will want your stay to be as comfortable as possible, as are there any variations of this pose you can explore to make it easier if the muscles feel tight or more challenging if it feels fabulous? Was there something you forgot to pack that could make your stay in this posture feel any better?
Sadly your time in the Outback has now come to an end and it's time to make your way back home. We usually come out of a posture in reverse, retracing our steps backwards and working with our breath until we end up back where we started. So did you enjoy your trip? Was it worth it? Did you have a fabulous time and can't wait to go back? Did Australia meet your expectations, or maybe you felt it was over-rated? It's great to challenge ourselves with more difficult asana, but remember on your yoga travels not to force the body by taking it somewhere it really doesn't want to go. Take it slow, enjoy the scenery, listen to your breath and work to your measure.
Nice tan by the way mate!
Diane Ashfield (aka Yoga With Dash) is a British Wheel of Yoga instructor, teaching in the London Borough of Bromley.