One of my Twitter followers recently posted a Bikramism I’d never heard: “If you try the right way, you get it today or tomorrow. If you try the wrong way, you never get it in a million years.” “It” being not the full expression of the pose but the grace of striving to implement its beauty, of paying homage to the journey, not the destination. And getting the stretch you are meant to get, of course.
I pondered this in the light of my own habit of moving into postures at a snail’s pace. I think I suffer obsessive-complusive-yoga disorder—OC(Y)D—because I must align every limb, big and small, every finger and toe before I move more deeply into a pose. Those details that seem picayune to people, they ring true for me, they seem right, they help me towards fuller expressions of the poses. Obesiance to them is a way of respecting the practice—and is the route to full expression, as well as getting all the benefits.
Sorry if I sound sanctimonious. But god—or whatever—is really and truly—scout’s honor—in the details. Preparing for balancing stick, for example, by arching the upper torso backwards, reaching toward the ceiling, and pointing the rising toe ensures a unity from toes to fingers that removes the difficulty and mystery from the pose and advances you toward a full parallel.
Yet I rarely see people heeding these instructions, which seem irrelevant to the wow of parallel. They thrust legs backwards with bent knees, curl their spines downwards so that their heads weigh too much, and then they get frustrated. They seem to believe the pose is about parallel. It’s not. It’s about conquering the force of gravity, one degree at a time. It’s not about the end but about the means. Strength comes from the trying.
Trying the right way is the way to go. It prevents injuries, it conditions you for fuller expressions of the postures, and it is key to the will-less-ness that is the essence of our subjegation to our bodies and to fate.