Professor Moriarty, I Presume

Standing bow is my nemesis.  Like Moriarty to Holmes, Luther to Superman, like Nemesis herself to everybody.  No matter how much I practice, I can't seem to stay balanced.  It drives me crazy.  Crazy, I tell you!

It's gotten to the point where I practice it at home more than any other pose.  I think about corrections to try.  I think about how to incorporate all elements simultaneously.  I think about what I want to look like.  I concentrate on my eyes, my breath, kicking, kicking, kicking.   I also try to not think about it and just do it.

Alas, the bow mocks me.

I can't figure out the problem.  I've asked every teacher I've ever had for suggestions and corrections. I've spent time in the room before and after class practicing so I could use both sets of mirrors.

My hips are aligned.  I'm kicking hard into my hand.  My knee is locked.  My head is straight.  My foot comes straight up over the top of my head.  My weight is slightly forward so my standing leg isn't tilted.  I even have my arm relaxed and my shoulder behind me.  When examined by experts, I'm given excellent technical marks.

This leads me to believe that my key difficulty with the pose is psychological. I'm preventing myself from doing it. The question is why.

When I started doing Bikram a year and a half ago, I had no expectations of my performance.  My first class wasn't too bad - all things considered - and I liked it more than I thought I would.

For the longest time I didn't see much change in my poses.  I didn't mind.  I was in the very worst shape of my life and I was just happy to be on a path.

Then I started to see progress.  I've always been pretty flexible and pretty strong, but my understanding of the poses got better and when that happened, I saw changes.  Except in standing bow.

I don't know when I realized it wasn't getting better, but when I did realize it, I asked my teachers about it.  They examined, tweaked, suggested things.

Yet I'm at an impasse.  I fall out every.single.time.  I tell myself that just because I fell out yesterday doesn't mean that I will today.   It gets harder to say this to myself, though, when every day I fall out again.

This is where the psychology comes in.  This is something I have to believe in order to do.  The problem is, my mind doesn't operate that way.  I need to see it to believe it.   So you see the obstacle.

I don't know how to overcome this.  I know this - this method of thinking - is a hindrance in more than just standing bow.  I know I'm limiting myself in other ways.

I have to believe in myself more.  I have to believe in myself more than I don't believe in myself.  Cool.  Now that I've got that all figured out, I'm going to have a nice long cry.  Sometimes I really hate yoga.


hannahjustbreathe said...

Hmm. Well, if you're falling forward, that's okay. Good, even. Because you're pushing yourself to your limit.

We've heard it both ways---to fall out can mean you're not kicking hard enough. But, to fall out can also mean you've reached an edge. Get back into the pose, get yourself back to the place, and see if you can stand it for a second or two longer.

My trick? Coming down slowly---ohhhh sooo slowly. It's 15 seconds in, and I'm still moving my body inch by inch down until at about the half-way point, I'm fully into the pose and kicking like hell. I usually fall out around the 50-second mark. But, I'm okay with that.

All of this said, I'm sure most of what you're wrestling with IS psychological. Standing forehead to knee is my nemesis. I KNOW I can do it---teachers yell at me all the time to kick out and then to drop my elbows. Some days I do, some days I don't. And it's all just a mental mind game. I am fully aware of this.

However. Being fully aware and changing your attitude are two entirely different beasts. I don't know which has sharper teeth.

Dorothy said...

For some reason, after one of my teachers told me I was "so ready" to get my forehead to my knee, I started doing it. I can't always stay in, but I can get there. I haven't had the same luck w/standing bow.

I'm going to try the creeper method starting Monday -when we start our challenge ^__^.

thedancingj said...

Hi! :)

How long are you usually holding the pose for before you fall out? Cause falling is no big deal as long as you get some decent holds in there. 60 seconds is a long time, more than you need actually. I almost always fall forward out of the pose during the first set, and quite often in the shorter set, too. I don't see falling as a big problem at all. But frustration? Yeah, that's a problem. So you've gotta let that part go. It's just yoga! Like Hannah says, when you fall, don't bother saying to yourself, "Oh shit, I fell again!" Just say, "Oh yay, that was a good one! Now I'm gonna do it again and kick even harder!"

On the technical front, there are a couple things that you didn't mention in your checklist. I'm sure you know these, but they always bear repeating. There are three basic elements to standing bow: bringing the body down, kicking, and stretching. All three happen immediately and simultaneously. (I am not a believer in the "creeper" whatsoever - sorry Hannah! We'll talk sometime about this one.) The next two things I always check are my standing leg and my EYES!! Eye focus will get you every time. The second your eyes start to wander, you're gonna fall. Even if they're just jumping from body part to body part, trying to find something to fix. When I have trouble balancing, I often just go back to my own eyes in the mirror and have a staring contest with myself. Works like a charm.

But seriously, even if none of this helps right now, don't beat yourself up over it! It's one pose. No biggie. Once it's over, it doesn't matter what happened in it. Next is balancing stick. Come to the back of your mat. Arms up over your head sideways, palms together, interlock your fingers...

J :)

Duffy Pratt said...

Here are some tips from a fellow faller:

Find a spot to focus on, then narrow the focus, then narrow it some more, until you are concentrating on a single point. Even then, try to look inside that point.

When you are doing the slow method, also pay attention to your breath, and have your movement and your breath become one. As you exhale, kick some and go down some. On the inhale, you think length and relaxation.

When you fall out, laugh at yourself. At first, force the laughter. There isn't enough laughing in yoga.

If you are doing it the right way, then every fall is a sign of success. BTW, I've made it through a set of Standing Bow without falling less than a handful of times, so I'm speaking from experience. (Also, if I just wanted to stay in something that looked like the pose, I could probably do that now almost every single time. But what would be the point?)

This is the first time I've visited your blog. I like it.

bikramyogachick said...

Like Duffy, I've only stayed in for the full 60 seconds a handful of times as well. All of these comments are great advice! I'll just add one more thing, that will hopefull help with the frustration. Every time I fall out and get frustrated I remind myself of what Lacey tells us "It's yoga practice, not yoga perfect". I love that saying because it reminds us it's about the journey and not any particular destination. Also, kudos for the head to knee. I thnk that's awesome. I'm going on two and a half years and am still stuck in the getting my elbows down far enough part. Great post!!

Dorothy said...

J - I am definitely guilty of the wandering eye. I'm going to pay more attention to that in my next practice. I don't know why that never occurred to me before. Good tip. Thanks!

Duffy - thanks for reading! All of your suggestions are nice to have. I'm also glad to know that this pose is kind of a bugger for other people, too.

BYC - thanks for the reminder about it being a practice! I need to keep that in mind.