Updated: Sep 20, 2020
Your Favourite Posture
It's nearly time for yoga, you're getting your bits together, excited for an hour for yourself, a little bit of introspection, some stretching. Maybe you have a sore neck, or you've had a long day at work, and you're just ready. Ready for yoga! But I bet if you're totally honest, you're hoping there may be a couple of your favourite poses thrown in there, and maybe secretly, there's one or two that you're really not a fan of, and you're thinking quietly, I hope they're not in the bag today!
So, if I were to ask you to write down your 5 favourite poses, what would they be? Try it now (or make a mental list if you're reading this on the go, and there is no pen or paper to hand). OK, put that to the side. We'll come back to it in a bit.
Asanas with Attitude
Yoga teaches us of four Bhavas (a Sanskrit word that directly translates to feelings/attitudes) and these four bhavas are like umbrella terms for a whole bunch of poses. Every asana (posture) can be categorized under one of these four bhava's and can be broken down into certain characteristics or feelings/attitudes.
So, let's see if your list of 5 favourite postures all come from the same bhava. Maybe a combination of two, or maybe spread across all four. Having a look at this will give us an insight into what your practice means to you and maybe some areas for you to delve a little deeper into.
1. Dharma Bhava (Duty)
Characteristics: Dharma poses are all meditative poses. They are still, symmetrical and centred. While practicing these poses you focus on cultivating stillness and peace, discipline, faith and commitment to your yourself.
Examples: They include easy cross-legged, lotus, kneeling/adamant pose, standing prayer, bull pose and butterfly (bhadrasana).
What do they say about you: You enjoy being still and in your own company, with your thoughts, and breathing in stillness and making space from the inside out. Introspection may be important to you and you may value time alone to sit with your thoughts and your breath. These postures are wonderful because they give you time to pay attention to yourself. Taking time to take care of your own needs, putting yourself first and increasing your self-respect and responsibility to first yourself, and then to those in your circle.
2. Jnana Bhava (Knowledge)
Characteristics: Jnana poses are generally seen as quite 'active' postures and include developing and exercising one-pointedness, balance, body awareness and co-ordination.
Examples: They include all balance postures, warriors, trees, twists, postures that exercise extremities (arms and legs, for example gomukhasana) and side bends.
What do they say about you: You enjoy creating awareness between body and breath on all levels, and enjoy practising how the breath can impact the body and build strength, balance, ease and grace from the inside out. By creating an inner awareness to how the body and mind can feel good in movement you are becoming more and more connected to your inner being every time you practice, both on and off the mat. You no longer care for the shape of the pose, but are beginning to feel it from the inside.
3. Vairagya Bhava (Letting Go)
Characteristics: Vairagya poses can be categorised as restorative postures. Postures that help to cultivate feelings of surrender and release, relaxation and a 'let go' attitude. They are commonly found towards the end of an asana practice, but can be found dotted about in a slower, more restoratively focused practice.
What do they say about you: Maybe you have a busy life, with lots of demands and not a lot of time for you, so you really value those pause moments, and guided time-outs, to let it all go. You value seeing things from a different perspective and creating a bit of distance from all the goings on, every now and then. You enjoy these postures as a wonderful addition to any asana class, but can be wonderful to practice in isolation whenever you require a little TLC.
4. Aishwarya Bhava (Will-Power)
Characteristics: Aishwarya poses are characterised by confidence, self-reliance, effort, freedom and strength. They change the chemical make-up of the brain and can stimulate feelings of confidence and will-power.
Examples: They include back bends, and what are often considered as heart-opening postures, for example the wheel, cobra, bow, locust and camel pose (ustrasana).
What do they say about you: Maybe you have a lot of heart focused energy typified by passion and a desire to move forward. You are compassionate, strong and often, charged. When you get a moment for yourself, you like to move into it with strength and compassion, the whole while remaining humble and down-to-earth.
So, where do your 5 fit? Mostly 1s, 2s, 3s or 4s? Or a mix of them all? Any good asana practice should have a good mix of all four types of posture, giving you the opportunity to practice all aspects. Helping to maintain strength where you are already strong, and leading you to build strength and practice in areas where you could use a little support. Knowing where we are is half the battle in moving forward. You got this!
Ready to create a little bit of space for you? Why not try our Live Online Yoga classes, bringing you accessible yoga for all, from our living room to yours? Sign up now for 15 days of free unlimited classes.
Carrie is a co-founder of The Frog Project, yoga teacher, and full time stay at home mum to two smalls. When she's not playing with the kids or practicing yoga, you'll likely find her in the middle of her veg patch, trowel in hand and covered in mud. She loves the outdoors, and would camp every night given the chance. She and her partner in crime, Martin, set up The Frog Project with the aim of bringing classical yoga to all, and deliver live online classes with a group of dedicated teachers, to students of all experiences, ages, shapes, sizes, jobs, lives, you name it, from all around the world. Join them now and get 15 days of free unlimited classes. It's just yoga.