Monday, July 1, 2013

How to get through the awkward in Awkward Pose - Bikram Yoga

Guess what? Utkatasana, or Awkward Pose is called that for very good reason. It's kind of unwieldy!

I'm going to share a little secret. How to get through it without feeling awkward at all. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't detail why I used to feel so awkward in it to begin with. In (excruciating) detail.

There are three parts to this bad boy posture. It comes up third in the series of twenty-six asanas. By this time you're feeling like the class should be over, but are able to count on one hand the number of postures you've done. It's a big "uh-oh" moment. As in, UH OH... I'm barely sweating, but now I'm into a wall squat position from high school gym class... only there's no wall. And I'm going to fall on my bottom.

Part one (squatting pee position) 
Utkatasana: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, as in the Bikram Yoga series


Thought one: This is public humiliation for women who are not adept at hovering over a public toilet to pee. Peeing on the seat is not cool. Sitting down is usually disgusting. If you're ill-equipped to squat, you've now been outed for your private inabilities, In this hot-as-heck claustrophobic studio. Where you paid for the pleasure of this humiliation. Thanks Bikram Yoga!

(I have a very active imagination. If you have horrible knees and cannot sit low in this position, I promise you that not only am I not looking at you and judging you for you for peeing on the toilet seat at the restaurant, but also that I've evolved through the next level of awkward posture narcissism).

Thought two: "Suck it." I can sit down completely low. I have mastered this sitting-low thing and no one is looking at me as if I were the serial urine sprayer that just used the stall before them. I rule!

Thought three: I'll be fine tuning this for the rest of my life and can't help but wonder... Sitting down low, with the Bikram Choudhury-book promise of perfectly toned thighs running through my mind, "just how long do I have to sit here before I can outmaneuver the chocolate that takes up residence on my thighs?"

The source of the
ouchie toe pain. 
Part two (ouchie toes): I have very ouchie toes as the result of surgery to both my feet. I have implants in both of my "going-to-market" piggies and the ones that "cry wee-wee-wee" have been broken and reset during removal of bunions. My toes constantly betray me during part two of awkward posture. Unlocking when I say, "stay locked!" and wobbling under the poorly planned distribution of weight when I go into the posture too quickly.

Part three (knee smoosh): Part three has always been the true test of my practice. If I can lower myself with grace and consistently smooth movement, then I know I'm feeling good. If I waver, rush it, or fall onto my heels, I know I've got some work to do. This is how you master all three parts of awkward posture. Mental toughness.

How to master Utkatasana:

1. Listen to the dialogue carefully and follow instructions. Listen to the instructor as if they were giving you the answer to life's greatest mysteries.The more you listen, the less your mind can wander and complain!

2. Lose the scowl. (I have trouble with this.) Relax your face and ease into the posture. Calm face = calm approach.

3. Overpromise yourself. When you can't take it one more second and you know you're going to fall down, take a slow breath and inaudibly say "One. More. One. More..." By the time you say it twice, the posture is over. Whew!

4. Fake it. You're closer to mastering this posture than you realize. Accept where you are, and you always win.