There is a yoga pose called plow pose (halasana.) In this pose, you balance on your shoulders with your hands either clasped or at your lower back and let your legs fall over your head. See below (apologies for the view. That’s my teacher Sharath in the background 🙂 ).
In my earlier classes, some teachers would teach this pose right before laying down to rest. My back would go into spasm every time. I would lay with my knees up and unable to relax. I wish I would have said something. I’m sure if the teacher knew I was in pain THEY would have wished I’d said something. I know now what it was, what I was working through, and how I could have approached it in a more calculated way. I just didn’t have the voice or the tools at the time to express that it was too much.
This pose and a few other instances in yoga classes is why I work like I do in the Mysore system. I don’t teach folks until I meet them and see if we’re a good fit. Communication is SO important in yoga. Trust is built over a long period of time and can be broken in an instant. Then I introduce the practice slowly and watch their movements and get to know how their body moves in space. Eventually, we find a pace of learning in primary series that fits them in that particular chapter of their life. However, this too evolves over time. I want my students to tell me how they’re feeling unlike when I couldn’t find the words in my earlier classes in pain in plow pose.
Patanjali talks about this in the yoga sutras. If you rush something, aversion is bound to happen. You misidentify yourself with the visual world. Our relationship to an object or feeling is the challenge. We want to develop a healthy relationship to our practice, body, teachers and mind. It’s not always easy and at times there can be tension. One learns over time that there is no reason to be afraid. With tension comes learning and evolution. Humans are hardwired for this! This takes time, trial, error, and eventually a routine/ritual the fits you. Working slowly goes against culture. I’m taking more time in my postures and practice and it is so luxurious! No agenda. Just balance, breathe, and practice. It’s radical in my opinion and can make you sweat and challenge you in the endlessly engaging way.