Over the last few months, a number of people have told me I have a beautiful practice. While this is indubitably flattering, it is also…interesting, because my practice can best be described as ‘heavily modified’. Ok, maybe ‘intensely personalised’? Anyway, you get the picture. I am definitely a poster girl for the maxim form follows function.
For a start, I have dodgy wrists, which has more or less eliminated poses like upward facing bow, handstand and bakasana from my practice, and also resulted in me practicing chaturanga and up dog on steepled fingers. In fact, arm balances of any sort make only occasional appearances in my practice, since it’s kind of challenging to bear the weight of your whole body on your fingertips!
I have no pain if I practice this way. So I practice this way. But it is certainly not classical alignment. In fact, it’s probably enough to give The Yoga Police (I am sure they exist) conniptions.
Then, there is my equally dodgy and hypermobile lower back. These days, I tend to initiate all poses from a feeling of broadness across the back of my pelvis, so that I don’t crank into either of my SI joints, both of which are wont to dislocate at a moment’s notice. Take for example, this picture of me practicing Virabadrasana 1 (sorry it’s so small):
Here are ways in which this isn’t a classical, Light on Yoga-aligned pose:
- My feet are in line with the bones of my hips, rather than each other. This is to provide more space in my hips, preventing crunching.
- I am not very deep into the lunge. Same reasons as above. Some days I can go deeper. This was not one of those days.
- My hands aren’t touching.
- Nah…I could carry on for a while, but I suspect I don’t need to!
It does, however, look a lot more like the Viniyoga-style Warrior pose on the cover of this book:
Um, probably because it IS a Viniyoga-style pose.
Moral of the story? I appears that your poses don’t have to be the deepest, flashiest, scariest, for them to look and feel harmonious. In fact, less is often more. Form really does follow function, as the great man says. (TKV Desikachar, in case you are wondering).
I guess my friend Anja sums things up best:
I am so enjoying more and more doing viniyoga. I feel how I enjoy yoga more and more, how it becomes more and more just an integral part of me because I no longer obsess about doing the Asthanga sequence and getting frustrated with it because I get stuck.
- SI Joint Pain and Yoga (yogawithnadine.com)
- Beginners’ Yoga: Warrior Pose (yogawithnadine.com)
- Feet (yogawithnadine.com)