The Nemesis Posture

You know what I’m talking about right?  That one posture that gets the best of you every time.  It’s the one you like the least, avoid at all costs at first, and causes you the most angst within the 90-minute class.  It’s a different posture for everyone and if you practice long enough it can suddenly metamorphosis into a posture you used to be friends with.

Nemesis by definition means:  something that a person cannot conquer or achieve; an opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.  Sounds like the perfect description for that one posture that seems impossible, that has you question how anyone can actually do that with their body?

And so many times we hear our instructors say to us after one of these grueling and impossible postures, “It’s the postures we hate the most, that we need the most, “ or, “ The postures that you have to struggle for day after day, in the end will mean the most to you.”

Sounds like a bunch of rubbish as you lay in savasana trying to control your breath, your heart beat pounding through your ears, and sweat trickling from…well, everywhere…doesn’t it?

But the thing is, the teacher is not just saying this to make you roll your eyes in frustration, but because they have been there.  For 8 years I battled my nemesis posture.  It was a posture that once completed for the day, the rest of the class seemed bearable.  For years it was like high noon in a western film when that posture came around in class.  I would boldly stare at myself in the mirror, fighting against the posture, telling myself I can conquer this, I can overcome this, I can make this happen.  It was a fight, a battle, an all out war.

But the thing about war or a fight against something is that somebody has to win and somebody has to lose.  So about year 4 into my practice I decided to just be o.k. with whatever happened during that posture.  I called a truce with my nemesis posture deciding to shake hands instead of continuing to battle on.  If I fell out of it I would take a quick glance at the students in the class that could go so much farther than me and quietly say to myself, “Someday.”

And then it happened about 2 years ago.  The posture that I had regarded as an enemy, a mountain I still had yet to climb, became my ally and friend in healing up all of the issues in my hips and left leg.  I started actually looking forward to this posture because there were visible differences happening as I worked on it day after day.  When I think of this posture I now have nothing but endearing thoughts towards it because I had worked so hard and for so long to achieve it.

Still today it could be better.  I have work yet to do, as I do on all of my postures.  But the thing is it was all worth it in the end.  That posture has taught me the most about myself, my body, my strength, my determination and focus, as well as, patience with myself and others.  I wouldn’t give away a single step of my journey with that posture now that I look back on it.  Because in the end I needed it the most.

Do you have a nemesis posture?  What do you think is holding you back from achieving it?

nemesis-posture-views-from-the-podium

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29 thoughts on “The Nemesis Posture

  1. LOCUST POSE! LOCUST POSE!!!! But I sometimes look forward to it to see if it changed….but not if the room is extra-hot…then I just try not to die 🙂

    I did notice that when I took a break due to an injury (and a husband recovering from his surgery) that my practice had changed quite a bit… and trying to actually relax during the postures has been much more challenging and beneficial. Also going slow is uber helpful (and being in T’ai Chi – which is all about s-l-o-w) has helped my Bikram practice a ton. I actually like Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee pose which I know is a bear a lot of the times. But going slowly for that really changed the entire pose for me.

    My biggest challenge is learning how to pull back in the standing series so that I’m not completely exhausted by the time I get to the floor and that I don’t always have to do every pose to its fullest expression if I’m not ‘feeling it’ – and learning to do things differently to see what that brings…actually every day I practice is a brand new practice, if you know what I mean.

    • Even though we teach we’re still students of the yoga. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I bet you down the line Warrior I will be a posture you embrace instead of battle with. Thanks for reading!!

  2. My nemesis is camel. It puts me in such a vulnerable position especially doing in later on in the class when I’m tired, I almost feel defeated after doing the pose!! Hopefully my ‘someday’ will come soon! Great read 🙂

    • Camel is a rough one! I remember during Teacher Training how hard it became to just stand up on my knees knowing how I was going to feel once we went into the posture. But once you embrace back bending your entire practice will take a huge leap forward – hang in there! Thanks for stopping by the blog!

    • Just remember its about 2 things – looking up and kicking up. If you have problems getting the thighs off of the floor think about pushing your stomach into the ground and squeezing your seat as hard as you can – this sometimes helps you go further into the depth of the posture. Thanks for adding to the conversation and stopping by the blog! I’m sure your floor bow is beautiful 🙂

  3. As strange as this might sound I think it’s the breathing that’s my nemesis, in every posture. When I get frustrated and fall out of posture, it’s inevitably because I’ve stopped breathing. It’s as though I’ve convinced myself that by holding my breath I’ll be able to stay in the posture longer. I have a tendency to fall out of standing bow and my instructor will tell me it’s because I’ve started holding my breath.

    • Breathing seriously is the hardest thing ever! How incredible its going to be when you discover that slow flow of breath through the entire class – I know it will happen for you soon! Thanks for reading the blog – your practice is an inspiration to so many!

  4. Triangle makes me want to throw something through the front mirror. When I first began my challenge I was able to hold triangle for both sets and in (what I thought) good form. NOT. I was totally collapsing into my obliques and not reaching for the ceiling with my ribs while twisting back and up. So cheers to the adjustment! And I’ll look forward to that glorious day when I look in the mirror and smile.

  5. This is just a little follow-up comment regarding my nemesis Triangle posture: I DID IT! Today I looked in the mirror and saw an incredible sense of peace AND I was able to fully express the posture (well as far as I could spine twist but definitely with my leg in an upside-down L like Linda) and hold it for BOTH sets! Thanks again for the encouragement. Couldn’t help but share 🙂

    • Amazing work! Isn’t that just the best? When a posture finally clicks and you understand it physically and mentally and the breath comes naturally? Thanks for sharing this huge accomplishment – so excited for you!!

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