Chair pose often gets a bad rap. It's one of those poses that is awkward and uncomfortable. It requires patience, mindful alignment, strength and balance. We could easily avoid this pose for the rest of our lives, but where we would be if we only tried things that were easy and felt good, all of the time.
Yoga is about the dissonance between strength and surrender. Surrender feels good, it feels like melting and breathing is easy to find in those moments we we can just let go and sigh deep. Strength can feel like an affront on our bodies and in our minds. You mean I have to hold this for how long.......my legs are shaking....I just can't do it.
But without strength, we cannot build beyond this pose. Without strength, we stop growing. I know that chair pose used to be one of those poses that I couldn't wait to get out of. But now, I think about all the micro adjustments I need to find surrender even amongst having to be strong. If you sink into your heels, free your toes, lengthen through the crown and spinal column, tilt your pelvis towards the ground and melt you tailbone towards your heels, you will come begin to find a new relationship with this pose.
You will find moments inside of it that allow you to fully breathe in and out and you will savor the sweetness of that release into a forward fold.
How have you been holding out on your practice?
Have you been avoiding those postures that require strength, patience, and a kind mind?
Next time you roll out your mat, can you find space to relax into those poses that require strength? Then can you sink deeper into the moments of sweet surrender. You are stronger than you think you are. Try finding chair pose, or any pose that you find yourself avoiding, just for a few minutes.
Raise your arms up over head and find a strong Tadasana (or Mountain Pose). Turn your pinky fingers slightly in towards each other, activate the muscles in your outer arms. Turn on your shoulders by actively pressing them together and down your back. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale deeply, sit back into your imaginary chair. You can do this against as wall as well, to help straighten and align your spine. Sit a little bit deeper. Sit back onto your heels, you should be able to free your toes from the earth and root down through the back body. Your knees should be far enough back that you can see your toes greeting you from below. Straighten through the back body, feel long and powerful in your spine. Feel length even as your legs begin to shake.
Shaking happens in yoga, it is a powerful tool that allows us to know when we are breaking boundaries in our bodies. It alerts us to our strength. Keep that steady breath. Inhales to grow tall and exhales to sink deeper. Tuck your tailbone by engaging in your core. Bring the bellybutton towards your spine and curl your tailbone underneath you. Feel the chest rise up. Take one last huge inhale and as you exhale, before you sink into a yummy forward fold. Allow yourself a few breaths to really soak in your surrender. Fill the belly with breath and really acknowledge where you are and how you feel.
Utkatasana, means fierce pose. Be fierce. I know you have it in you. Strength breeds vulnerability, surrender, intuition, and growth. Get out of your head and into the pose, watch is shift inside of you.