While the purpose of yoga is by no means to look like insta-yogis and work solely towards fancy balances and so-called “pretzel-poses”, that doesn’t change the fact that many of us want to be able to get into those famed asanas. However, for some, this simply isn’t an option. Whether you’re a new learner or a teacher it’s important to remember that there are many restrictions that can hold a yogi back from certain poses. While some can be overcome with frequent practice and a special attention to the source of whatever is holding you back, identifying what the cause of your limitation is truly is key in making the most of your practice, even if that means something different for you than it would for someone without any of the problems you may be facing. So let’s find out-
Why Some People Can’t Do Certain Yoga Poses
Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
There are plenty of medical issues that could inhibit your ability to get into many poses. For people with arthritis certain poses could put too much strain on the neck, hips, knees, or wrists. While there are often ways to modify a pose to make it more accessible for those with restrictions, there are some poses that should still be treated delicately if not entirely avoided.
There are plenty of other medical conditions that could get in the way of a person’s practice. From spinal problems to genetic or other types of disabilities it’s always important to treat your body gently, especially in areas where you are already vulnerable.
No, we’re not talking about plastic surgery. However, there are many surgeries that can affect someone’s range of motion which would, in turn, cause someone to be incapable of doing certain poses. Things like screws/plates to fix tendons and bones could cause discomfort or even completely stop someone from moving in the ways necessary for many sequences. Joint replacements and weak bones can also limit strength, stability, and range of motion. No matter what the cause, it’s important to discuss any potential limitations with your doctor to ensure you are practicing in the safest way possible.
Whether you’re currently pregnant or already have children, there are several reasons this could affect your current yogic capabilities. If you do have a bun in the oven, it’s important not to put too much pressure on your stomach, so many poses are out already. Say goodbye to sphynx, boat, deep forward folds, and any other poses that put weight on your baby bump. Doing inversions also isn’t generally recommended for pregnant women, although some very experienced yogis get away with it anyways.
Many doctors agree that during pregnancy women should avoid exercises that they weren’t doing pre-pregnancy as this causes stress on the body that could negatively affect the babies or your health. Again, make sure you consult with your doctor to find out where to draw the line to ensure that you aren’t endangering your or
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Post-pregnancy, many women suffer from a condition called diastasis recti, which is a separation of the abdominal muscles. This makes poses that rely on ab strength more difficult, if not impossible, depending on the extent of the separation. Luckily diastasis recti can be healed, it just takes time. Plenty of gentle ab exercises and yoga poses have been shown to help slowly pull those muscles back together, although it takes a good amount of dedication.
Let’s be honest, sometimes we just aren’t strong enough to try to do something yet. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be working on prep poses, but if you have very weak upper body you shouldn’t be trying to push up into wheel or hang out in hand stand. You simply aren’t ready.
Of course, this is one of those things that you can improve as quickly as you want to. By incorporating strength training into your fitness routine, you can quickly build the strength necessary to get into more strength related poses. It’s also a good idea to do some research and find out what poses are recommended for those attempting to do that goal pose.
If you aren’t flexible enough to do the splits, you cannot just drop down into the splits. and if you do you will almost certainly wound yourself. The same rules apply to many poses. Plenty of yoga poses are progressive, such as cobra leading into king cobra. A good rule of thumb: if the asana has the word “king” in it, you’re going to have to have a lot of strength and flexibility to do it. And if that’s a goal of yours, it’s going to take a good amount of time. There are some poses that can take years of practice to be able to get into, and that’s just simply the way it is.
While muscular flexibility can be gained quickly, if it involves your joints or spine, you’re going to have to accept that there is no short cut. Be gentle with yourself, and always remember that most of the people that are doing these poses have been practicing for an hour plus every day for around 10 or more years. You aren’t behind.
If you find yourself to be a rather unbalanced person, then most likely balance poses are a little out of your league, especially the more advanced ones. You won’t be doing falling angel any time soon, not because you’re not strong enough, but because you’re bound to face plant. Balance is easy enough to improve with consistent practice, so long as you don’t have inner ear issues throwing off your equilibrium. Other things that can affect your balancing capabilities are weight changes, the clothes you’re wearing (shoes will completely change your weight distribution in balance poses), the surface you’re on, and how distracted you are. While balance issues are among the easiest to overcome, they do require more focus than the others, the focus required to maintain balances is what makes them so difficult.
No matter what it is that’s holding you back, try to remember that yoga is less about what poses you can do and more about taking care of yourself, inside and out.