Like so many things on my desk, this entry sat in the queue marinating or whatever un-posted blog entries do in their endless spare time. I wanted to write about my victory over Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Legged Forward Fold).
I really, really dislike this pose. I could strike it from the list of classic asana, erase it form the minds of teachers, eradicate it from all history. All in all, my dislike and desire to conquer is very un-yoga like.
Wide Legged Forward Fold (WLFF) is a foundational pose. You stand with your legs wide and hinge at the hip, folding forward, keeping your spine long, your ribs lifted from your waist and you fold. Fold all the way down, down so your hands touch the floor, your elbows bend and your head is on the floor. You can use blocks to shorten the distance to the floor, placing your hands and head on the blocks.
When I enter WLFF, first my ankles hurt. Then, my back instantly rounds and I can't breathe. Suddenly, my ribs are frozen. My hamstrings scream and threaten to walk out on the job. The floor seems very far away. And I feel ugly. Crunched up, rounded, awkward and ugly.
I've had fellow teachers modify the pose with blocks, chairs and the wall. I get so frustrated that I've been known to cry, throw yoga blocks and take my mat and go home. That ego of mine has led me to whip myself up in handstands and wheel and other advanced poses to prove to WLFF that I am the boss. It is all very sad.
I've stomped my feet (unproductive to say the least). I've heard all the language, watched the demos, but I just can't do it. I can't.
Last week I dedicated my practice to WLFF. I opened my hips, my hamstrings and worked through my pranayama (breathing). I did back bending poses. And then, finally, after all this preparation, I grabbed about 45 yoga blocks, my full length mirror and worked on WLFF. It still looked awful, felt awful and completely shamed me.
Somewhere around hour 7 of obsessing (and calling my long suffering husband 77 times to discuss my hamstrings ), WLFF and I came to an understanding. I ditched the blocks. I moved away from the mirror and closed my eyes. And well, I folded. I have no idea what I looked like. My back was a rounded mess, my head was not on the floor. But I could breathe. And I could smile.
WLFF and I aren't necessarily a match; but we can hang at the same cocktail party. We dislike each other--but that is okay. No ego, no drama, no conquering. No yoga imperialism.
This morning I did WLFF. I just did it. I have no idea what it looked like. It felt great. More than great. It felt like the start of a beautiful friendship.