How A Mindset Of "Passing the Buck" Can Be Reflected In Our Asana Practice

By  Vanessa Webb | 


“Pigeon” was the pose mentioned, but I see it happening in a tonne of Yoga poses.  This is what was said: “Most people just arrive in it (the pose) collapsed, and hanging off muscles—which generally doesn’t do anything particularly useful…”.  To be frank, this way of being in an asana reflects a mindset.  It reflects that there is an expectation from the pose, an assumption that it will do the work for us. It’s a lazy way of practicing.  Not all, but many, many “flexible” people approach their asana practice in this way.  Somehow, it hasn’t been translated in our classes, that we have an accountability to our practice, we need to show up for it, and to be present with it. This is having respect for our practice. Yet for the most part, being accountable to the pose is completely overlooked.

Accountability to the pose means sustaining awareness, holding our presence with the pose and engaging where is necessary. Presence in the pose means knowing when we’ve pushed too far, and therefore, having initiated a level of force; or, knowing when and where it’s appropriate to engage physically because we find ourselves "slumping" or, just hanging out.  This active presence with the asana allows freedom of movement in the tissues. In this way we’re reflective, we're learning from the pose and we’re participating in our freedom. 

Being able to initially get ourselves into the shape of an asana doesn’t mean the pose comes easily to us, and it definitely doesn’t mean we’ve “mastered” it.  You’ll notice this once you start activating those poses that seem easy for you, the ones when your ego encourages you just to slump into it. All that ends up happening is that those points of "ease" for the body are being exploited rather than strengthened; instead, curiosity for what is needed in order to feel activity, is love for the body, and an aliveness for the practice.

image credit: thomas l. kelly "Sadhus: the Great Renouncers"

Additionally, we need to be willing to carry our own weight, because no one is going to do that for us, not even the pose itself.  When we move our body into a certain position and then just hang out there, we bring no intelligence to what we’re doing, we offer no respect for the practice nor are we upholding our responsibility in the practice. We’re not respecting our body because we’re not responding to it. We’re not giving ourselves the opportunity to learn from ourselves; and, not that it really matters to anyone else, but we’re showing a level of disrespect for the class as well as the instructor…and respect is a significant part of the practice, if not THE practice. 

Every individual contributes to the class, so how do you want to show up for that? Do you want to take part by involving yourself in your own practice, or do you want to slide in and slither out of class without any accountability, to yourself or anyone else? It is really up to you, but If you don’t have the desire to participate in your practice, then maybe it’s not the right practice for you. Lastly, it harkens to the familiar phrase: “How we do anything is how we do everything”.