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The yoga we all hate

Listen in to conversations after any yoga session, and we're almost guaranteed to hear someone discussing this or that yoga pose that they hate and wish they never need to do again - ever.

But why is it that there are certain yoga poses that we just dread? We can feel them coming, and start to hope the instructor isn't going to do it this time. Then we inwardly cringe when the instructor even mentions that posture's name. Simply recognising our reaction and can tell us a great deal not only about our physical abilities but also a great deal about our character and our approach to difficulties, adversity and failure. We should all observe our approach to the poses we hate. Is our approach to put in little effort and avoid doing the pose properly or try to think more about why we dislike it, to figure out if we're doing it wrong, or if we need to put in a little more effort to get past this challenge.

Whatever our approach to the poses we dislike, simply identifying which specific poses these are can tell us a lot about how to improve our practice.

It hurts too much - I don't want to do it

For most of us at least, the resistance to the pose doesn't really have anything to do with the technicalities of the pose - it's just about ourselves. The biggest resistance to trying a pose is because we know its going to hurt and challenge us. Some of the most dreaded poses are those that require back muscle strength, since these are some of our least developed and worked muscles groups. As soon as we lie down on our stomachs, we start to dread the muscle burn that is about to come.

But if a pose is hurting because our muscles are too weak, then the only way to get past it is to work those muscles and strengthen them. If a pose is hurting because of the stretch, then the only way to get past it is to relax, extend and stretch those muscles and joints. With a little work we will eventually overcome that particular challenge, and something else will become our new dreaded pose.

It's too difficult, I just can't do it

Another common reason for wishing to avoid certain poses is because we're convinced it's too difficult for us. But for basic and intermediate poses, there are very few poses that are so difficult that we just can do them. Fair enough doing the full pose as the instruction directs may be beyond your current abilities, but with effective instruction, you should be able to find part of the pose, or a variation of the full pose that you can attempt. If we can't manage a full unsupported backbend, then it's a supported backbend or a more gentle backward stretch.

They call it a yoga practice

Whatever our reasons for disliking a pose, avoiding the pose completely is certainly not going to help in any way. If we don't try to make the pose today, we certainly won't be able to do it tomorrow either. Only by recognising our boundaries and limits of our abilities can work at extending those boundaries, only by extending our boundaries do we develop and improve our yoga - or anything else in life. Trying, trying properly and trying frequently are all essential elements of our development. No-one can be expected to be a master of every pose, we all have areas we can work on. With quick look around your yoga studio you see people that are good at forward bends, those that are good at back bends, those that have open hips and those that have strong upper body and arms. Its rare to find people that are equally good at every aspect. And nobody is perfect, the finished article - that's why we call it a yoga practice.

As cliched as it sounds, yoga really is a journey of discovery and development, physically, mentally and if you allow it, spiritually. The first big step in our development journey is understanding our abilities are right now. By bringing awareness to our practice we can start to know where our limitations are and focus on those areas as key development points within a balanced practice. This is the start of the journey. The rest of the journey is the continued and systematic extension of those boundaries. And the destination, the goal of all this effort? The ongoing and continued improvement of our physical, mental and spiritual health.

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Free online yoga postures, online yoga poses and online yoga asana. Dhanurasana, bow pose

Featured Posture

Dhanurasana (Bow pose)


Lie flat on your stomach, chin on the floor with your arms by your sides and your legs straight together. With the knees apart, bend your legs at the knee bringing the feet towards your buttocks. Grasp your ankles with your hands with your arms straight, rolling your shoulder blades back and together to open your chest. Breathe in deeply. Exhale as you lift your feet up and away from you buttocks. The action should lift your thighs and upper body off the floor so that only your lower abdomen or, if possible, your pelvis supports your entire body weight.

Keep your back, arms and shoulders relaxed only your leg muscles are active to hold the position and your neck active to raise your head to look forward or upwards.

If you are able, once in the final position you can move your thighs, knees and feet together to further open the chest.

The opening of our chest will cause your breathing to be rapid, breathe normally as you hold the position for 20 seconds to 1 minute.

Slowly lower your legs back towards your buttocks, release your ankles back down to the floor and take 2 deep energising breaths.

Repeat Dhanurasana 2 - 5 times.

Counter pose

Any forward bending asana


  • Digestive system abdominal organs - The asana massages the abdominal organs and muscles including the kidneys, liver and pancreas. Helps to relieve constipation and improve liver function.
  • Respiratory - The opening of the chest helps to strengthen the diaphragm and build lung capacity
  • Anatomical - Dhanurasana helps to align vertebrae and discs in the spine and stretches back ligaments, muscles and nerves for the treatment of slipped disks and relief from back pain. Dhanurasana is effective in straightening upper spine hunches.

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Ushtrasana - Camel Pose
watch the free streaming yoga video, helping you learn how to do yoga online for free The full and extended backward curve of the body stretches the abdomen including the stomach and intestines to stimulate the digestive and reproductive systems. The extension of the neck also stimulates the thyroid gland. The backward bend of the spine opens the vertebrae to releive back pain and help to improve the posture. Camel pose should be followed by any forward bending pose. Camel pose should not be practiced by people with severe back pain.