“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more
successful.” ~~ Mark Victor Hansen
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
I’ll start this blog off with a question: When was the last time you found yourself in a challenging situation? Think about it…what obstacles have you faced recently that really made you dig down deep to find the courage to deal with them, and then to take responsibility to do what needed to be done?
In my own personal life, it seems like I’ve been getting obstacles thrown at me every which way these past several months. Some related to health, some related to my full-time job, some related to my personal relationships…I could go on, but I think you get the point. It’s the way that I’ve dealt with these challenges that matters. I have to admit that the majority of the time, my reactive nature wins out. More often than not, when I react impulsively, I end up disappointed all around. But when I take time to really think about the situation and try to find the opportunity being presented to me, THEN it starts to become something else completely. When I can approach challenges with fearlessness, when I take responsibility (for after all, it is MY life, isn’t it?) and let go of my ego, wonderful things tend to happen. When I am not so reactive, when I’ve done my best to make the most of the situation, it’s so much easier to deal with the end results without letting my emotions get in the way. And I notice that when I approach challenges in this way, I am much happier in life.
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) is a great pose to practice this concept on our mats. Dhanurasana is a deep backbend (as you can see in the picture above), and it’s extremely challenging in this pose to find the right amount of extension in the spine. Too much extension, and you end up feeling “crunched”, particularly in the low back. Too little, and you won’t have the proper support or foundation to lift the thighs up. Many people tell me they don’t like this pose, and when I watch them getting into the pose, I usually notice either too much or too little extension in the spine.
Backbends are meant to provide a stretch for the front body, while strengthening the back body…it’s a balance. If you’re feeling an intense stretch in your low back while in this pose, then that’s your indicator that you’ve gone too deep. Instead, find the balance. Find that spot in the pose where you feel like your spine is lengthening and extending, where you feel the opening in your chest and shoulders, while feeling your whole backside (upper back, middle back, lower back, glutes, and hamstrings) strengthening. It should feel equal in terms of intensity, both from the flexibility and strength aspects.
We’ll be practicing Dhanurasana in our classes this week, learning how to find that balance. Learning how to apply JUST the right amount of effort. Maybe, if we can learn how to do this in our practice on the mat, we just might find that it becomes a bit easier to put this into practice in our lives off the mat.