One way to get better at yoga asanas is to imagine it. While I’m not advocating pushing too hard, sometimes just imagining you can go further into a pose will get you there. It gives you the will to try just a little harder. For example, if you’re doing Bow, visualize the beauty of the pose: the graceful arc formed by the arch of the back, the legs lifted high, feet moving back to open the chest. Then make your body into that shape—not violently or suddenly, but using your intelligence, your breath, and gradual movements from the inside to achieve the best pose possible.
So next time you’re doing a pose you find difficult, instead of doing it halfheartedly, thinking, “I can’t do this pose,” try this little trick of mine. Say to yourself, “I can do it.” Use your mind’s eye to see yourself a little deeper in the pose and then go there.
By the way, this will also help you hold a pose longer. Summon up your will power, take deep, even breaths, and see yourself holding it longer, a second at a time. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you see just how well you can do!
Some yoga poses are easy for us; we like doing them and practice them regularly. At that point when the pose becomes easy for you, it’s time to find another pose!
Let’s say you learned a new pose yesterday that was quite hard for you. When it comes time to do it today, you’re reluctant. You know how stiff you were in that pose, how little movement you got, and it felt uncomfortable. So you’re inclined to skip that one. Those are just the poses that your body needs.
If you persevere to learn a new pose, you’ll go through different stages. The first stage of reluctance usually lasts about a month. But as your body loosens up, you’ll move into the second stage. The pose becomes tolerable and your body and mind no longer resist so much. This stage may last another six weeks or so, getting better and better. Finally, you’ll get to stage three; the pose will be quite pleasant and enjoyable.
Try to imagine it. While I’m not advocating pushing too hard, sometimes just imagining you can go further into a pose will get you there. It gives you the will to try just a little harder.”
Relax as you practice. Don’t stress about how stiff you are; just watch your breath; notice how it affects your body, and let it help you open and release into the pose.
So next time you’re doing a pose you find difficult, instead of doing it halfheartedly, thinking “I can’t do this pose,” remember these tips. And be careful to follow all the safety guidelines, especially the most important principle which is to listen carefully to your body and never push your body beyond its limits.