Inner Reflections
July 3, 2023

How Deep Are Your Feels?

If you’ve ever looked at another person (or a picture or video of another person) doing a particular yoga posture and thought, “I’d like to be able to do that,” here’s something to consider: Your ability to accomplish difficult or “advanced” asanas depends in large part on your ability to feel deeply into your body.

The deeper you feel, the more awareness you’ll develop and the more strength and mobility you’ll be able to access. So rather than focusing on a particular posture, first think about trying to feel deeply.

Here’s a bit of an unorthodox practice that might help. You can try it right now if you like, or the next time you get on your mat:

  • Stand in tadasana (mountain pose) and bring your attention to your breath. Start to breathe slowly and deeply. Little by little try to engage as many different muscles as you can at the same time and take between 5-10 slow, deep breaths. With each breath try to engage even more muscles, and try to engage them even more forcefully. Then relax, but keep breathing slowly and deeply.
  • Next, lay down on your back and repeat the process. Breathe slowly and deeply for 5-10 breaths and try to engage as many muscles as you possibly can, as powerfully as you can. Then relax again and keep breathing.
  • Repeat this process in as many different postures as you can think of. Try navasana (boat pose), plank pose, trikonasana (triangle pose), virabhadrasa A & B (warrior I & II) and Vashistasna (side plank) for starters. From there try progressing to vrksasana (tree pose), arda chandrasana (half moon), bakasana (crow pose), urdva dhanurasana (wheel pose) and any others that you feel like exploring.

If you really dig in when you do this, you’ll feel very rigid, which in many ways might seem like the opposite of the suppleness and fluidity that yoga is trying to help us cultivate. Don’t worry. There’s a method to the madness. The goal with this practice is to help you learn how to create stability in different shapes. 

By cultivating a deeper awareness of your entire musculature, you’ll begin to understand how to access a deeper level of strength to help support you in different postures. You may also start to develop a new appreciation for the ways in which different parts of your body are connected, and thus able to support each other. 

With a little time and consistency, this practice should help you understand how to approach, and possibly get into a variety of postures that previously eluded you.

That said, please keep in mind that not all bodies are built to do all postures. There’s no need to force anything, and no need to feel discouraged or somehow inadequate if you’re not able to accomplish a particular posture yet—or ever. 

The important thing, as always, is simply to do the best you can, and to enjoy the journey wherever it may lead. Focusing on the process instead of the results is key to finding joy in your practice, and finding joy in your practice—regardless of what postures you can or can’t do—is ultimately the key to yoga.

If you’d like to try this practice, they’re incorporated into Brent’s new series “Building to Peak Poses,” which will be streaming exclusively on starting July 5th, this Wednesday! 

Hope to see you on the mat!

By Brent