Lately I’ve been making it a point to say no thanks to my yoga teachers at least once in every class I take.
I don’t say it out loud or anything, of course, because that would be a little awkward (and while I pride myself on being a little weird and awkward even I don’t want to be that person in yoga class). Instead, I usually say it silently to myself, smile, and do whatever the hell I want to do instead.
More often than not, whatever the hell I want to do is a simple, quiet, grounding Child’s Pose.
My inner dialogue goes something like this:
What’s that, dear teacher? You want me to do just one more vinyasa? Tempting…but there’s no way in hell I’m going to do that. Nope, I’m just going to drop to my knees and take a little Child’s Pose while all those other suckers—I mean beautiful beings—work up a sweat. Feel free to notice how completely exhausted and overworked I am, teacher, and make your way over here to give me that adjustment where you push just a little bit on my hips—I know you know the one. It makes my low back feel so good. I’ll just wait right here while you finish saying Chaturanga, Up-Dog, Down Dog for the 14,000th time today (not that I was counting or anything)…
It’s my practice, my me time, my rules.
I only get to class once in a blue moon these days, so when I’m there, I do whatever I want. It wasn’t this way before I became a mom, but now that I am, my time away is particularly precious.
I won’t let it be ruined by doing a single yoga pose that doesn’t feel good in my body at that moment.
And neither should you.
1. Something feels a little funny, off, or just not right.
Maybe you can’t put your finger on why, but when something feels a little wrong in your body, it’s usually your body sending a signal that, for whatever reason, it’s not a good idea. It’s important to pay attention to those signals—in fact, I would argue that learning to really listen to your body’s cues is one of the most important things we can learn from our asana practice.
Do deep backbends feel a little constricted and just plain weird today when they’re usually a joyful, delicious experience? Skip them. Do something else.
And if you’re not sure what else to do (or there’s not time to ask your teacher to help you modify), just head into Child’s Pose! Maybe those backbends will feel great tomorrow. Or maybe in a few week’s you’ll get a positive pregnancy test or get a diagnosis at your doctor and it will suddenly make so much sense.
It’s happened to me. Always listen, trust, and adjust based on your body’s cues—whether it makes sense in the moment or not.
2. You’re nursing an injury or have a known medical condition, and you know the pose your teacher is asking you to do won’t be beneficial.
While there’s usually a great pose modification for most poses that will allow you to get some of the benefits of the pose without putting yourself at risk, if you’re not sure what that is in the moment Child’s Pose is usually a safe (and might I ad really really awesome!) bet.
3. You’re feeling tired, hot, uncomfortable, p*ssed off, or suddenly sad.
Asanas have the uncanny ability to bring out all of the emotions. In fact, a lot of the yoga postures are designed to get you a little “hot and bothered,” as the lovely Kathryn Budig so eloquently puts it. After all, we’re training for life here and life isn’t always a walk through the park on a lovely Spring day.
Sometimes life sucks. Asanas are also designed to work your muscles, build strength, and take you out of your body’s patterns. That’s hard work and it can leave you feeling shaky and just plain tired. There are times that we should push ourselves—at least a little—through the exhaustion (physical and mental), the shaky muscles, and the emotions that often come along with the territory.
There are other times when it can all get just a little bit too intense. What do do you then?
Well, I know what I do—Child’s Pose! It’s not giving up; it’s taking a step back, reassessing, and coming back to deal with it when you’re ready.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
4. You simply just enjoy the smell of natural rubber.
Oh, man, do I love the smell of a shiny new yoga mat.
I recently got a new Jade mat (the last one I had I used daily for five years and I finally wore big holes in it). The moment I unrolled that beauty, I was taken back to a million different yoga experiences—my teacher training, falling into a tired puddle on the floor, crying during Savasana—It all came flooding back to me.
I remembered how far I’ve come with the help of my yoga practice. There’s nothing wrong with revisiting those happy feelings, getting all intimate with your mat in a nice, long Child’s Pose. And it’s okay if it doesn’t remind you of anything other than the present moment, too.
That might be better, actually.
5. Just because you feel like it.
Do we really have to overthink everything?
Sometimes you just need a break. So, be kind to yourself and take one. You work hard at everything you do. Your yoga practice should be a time when you recharge, reset, and re-focus. There’s no better pose to help you do that than Child’s Pose, so, please, take one often whether you’re in the middle of a sweaty vinyasa class, a prenatal yoga class, or in your own living room.
And there are probably a million other reasons, too.
What are some reasons you have for taking a Child’s Pose?
Author: Erica Rodefer Winters
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: uwenna at Flickr