My Two Most Hated Yoga Poses #SOL24

March 18, 2024

I went to yoga today, and while I was there, I remembered a post I’ve wanted to make for a while: one about nemesis poses in yoga. By that, I mean the poses that I hate or dread the most. For me, there are really only two.

Okay, let me back up a minute before I get to the ones I consider my nemeses. I should qualify this by saying that I am not very flexible, and I never have been, not even when I was taking dance as a kid. At that time, I could maybe kind of do a split sort of with my left leg, but I definitely couldn’t do one with my right and a straddle was just a no go. Funnily enough, it never occurred to me (by which I mean I was never taught) that I could practice my splits so that I could one day maybe be able to do one. I always thought of it as an inherent trait. You either could do a split/splits or you couldn’t. (I mean, I also saw that one Jean Claude Van Damme movie where he was training to do a straddle split and only achieved it by his trainer pulling his legs apart with ropes, so, you know, that could have also been why I thought it was just something people inherently did or didn’t do.) I also have never been able to sit cross-legged with my knees touching the ground, ever. It just is not in my vocabulary.

Also, if I could turn back time, I actually would spin it back to right after my grandmother died in 2013, and I decided to stop doing yoga. I would tell myself that stopping yoga was a terrible idea, one that I would regret for the rest of my life. At that time, I was so strong and had, obviously, much more flexibility than I do now. I could do handstands and wheel pose and boat pose and more. I could even do child’s pose without my butt sticking in the air. Alas, those days are gone, though I guess I am working back towards being able to do those things now. I’m definitely not saying I can’t get there again, but I am noting that I have a long road to hoe if that’s going to happen.

(I quit going because yoga, I thought, was making me sad. I didn’t realize that, no, I actually just was sad and during yoga was the only time I felt it because it was the only time I was still enough and tuned into my body enough for it to come up. Clearly, I did not like that, blamed yoga for the sadness, and left it in the dust. I have done it off and on since then, but I certainly have/had not been doing it with any sort of regularity until these past two years and, well, see above about how that’s going.)

Okay, so my nemesis poses are nemesis poses because they are poses that are regular occurrences in yoga classes that instructors SEEM to think people like or, at least that when I have mentioned them before, people are shocked that I don’t like them. One of them is even called a “resting pose” when there is nothing restful about it. And, yes, I am talking about downward dog. And do you know how often downward dog shows up in a yoga class? EVERY TIME. Every single time. I have never not once been in a class where downward dog wasn’t present. That is one of the reasons it is my nemesis. It is always there. Always. There is no avoiding it, at all. The other reason it’s my nemesis is that I have weak wrists, so, again, nothing restful about it for me. And, yes, I modify (the variation is called dolphin apparently where I go down to my forearms), but still. Every time it will be there. Also! I have not had a yoga instructor teach me how to modify it or offer up a modification yet. (I figured that one out on my own.) The best they do is try to show me how to hold my hands so that it doesn’t hurt as much, which, you know, doesn’t work. So.

(I should point out, though, that downward dog is one way I can gauge how strong my practice is. The longer I can hold it, the more I know I’m improving. BUT STILL. I can never get a break from it.)

The other nemesis pose is pigeon pose, the one where you fold your leg in front of you and extend your other leg back. When I told one yoga instructor I hated that pose, she was shocked. Shocked! But guess what? That pose is not fun if you have tight hips or, if you’re me, an excessively tight IT band (I’m guessing that’s what the issue is). At any rate, there were about four of us talking about that stupid pose, and I was the only one who hated it, so there’s an unpopular opinion for you. And even though I try to only compare myself to myself in yoga, I am often one of the only people in any class I take who modifies that pose. So, take that as you will.

There are other poses I don’t particularly care for because I’m not good at them, but I think those are the only two I actively dislike, probably because I have never been particularly fond of them, even when I was extra strong in my practice. The ones that I have lost flexibility in because of my years of inactivity I give more grace. But downward dog and pigeon pose can kick rocks for eternity as far as I’m concerned.

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1 Comment

  1. Elisabeth Ellington

    I enjoyed this post so much. Such insight about why yoga made you sad and YES to what comes up when we’re actually still for a few minutes. And I couldn’t wait to find out what your nemesis poses were. There are 600 million downward dogs in yoga! Impossible to avoid. But our ability to do it comfortably is certainly a sign of strength returning. Pigeon pose is one of my favorites but I haven’t done it in years (I have a torn hip labrum that dramatically changed my ability to do yoga). I used to do yoga several times a week and haven’t for years. I blamed the hip labrum but I was doing it just fine until we moved….Maybe I need to explore this a little more!


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