O is for One Size Fits All

Or Not.  People are different.  They have different DNA, different bodies.  Their life experiences are different.  They exist in different circumstances.  Their health histories are different.  Their ambitions, goals, expectations are different.  Some are guided by Divine will, others by the Tao/Universe/whatever, others by karmic reincarnation from past lifetimes, still others by themselves alone.  Each person’s particular approach to body, mind, and spirit health will necessarily be different.  Each of us is the chef of our own life, and while using ingredients and seasonings widely available, the dishes we prepare will be unlike that prepared by any other person.

Practice design and execution should be personalized, as described on the Yoga Practice Design page.  Having an individual practice also means performing asanas uniquely for your body  -- including moving into and out of the asanas (vinyasa krama).

How would you personally achieve effective asana performance?  There is a a variety of acceptable and beneficial forms for each pose, and these should be tailored for your individual being.  Consider your breathing, your priorities for body & limb positioning, your selection of where to focus your attention.  Work on body parts and functions that satisfy your goals.  Develop body alignment & form as necessary to achieve your desired benefits while avoiding injury.  

None of us is born with an innate capability to do this, and most of us do not pick it up easily.  We need to work with teachers, learn from written material and videos, and experiment until we find the correct ways for us.  Whatever talent we have is provided by nature, but our skills are the result of our own learning.  

For an example of asana performance, consider Warrior II pose (virabhadrasana II).   This pose uses every limb, every major joint & skeletal element of the body.  The asana is easy to demonstrate and discuss, but everybody’s body is a little bit different.  You will do this pose differently than anybody else, because of your pelvic bones shape, flexibility of sacroiliac joint, structure and function of hip & leg joints, lengths of femur and tibia, shoulder joint condition & strength, condition of muscles-tendons-ligaments in legs-arms-ankles-wrists-hand, strength & flexibility of erector spinae muscles, vertebral flexibility, and so on...... you could name dozens (actually hundreds) of particular bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and their interactions that make everybody’s body unique in performing Warrior II while remaining stable (Sthira) and comfortable (Sukha).  You don’t have to do the pose like someone else, for the simple reason that your body is different than anyone else’s. 

The way you do any pose will change over time, as your body improves and you work toward your goals, but please remember that your goals need to be your goals, not somebody else’s goals or somebody else’s idea of what your goals should be.

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