Seemingly appropriate for almost any situation the interpretation, intended or perceived, may vary from ‘well it’s almost identical, it’s just a fake’ to ‘really it’s nothing like what you are asking for at all, but perhaps it will do’. It is one of my favorite sayings, sitting perfectly alongside the lovely Thai people. As I travel around the world teaching workshops in yoga anatomy, it is not the volumes of anatomical texts that bubble across my consciousness but this simple phrase and how we might explore our human potential with the concepts that percolate through it.
Yoga has become the ultimate female activity, with 80 per cent of practitioners from the ‘fairer’ sex 1 . On the surface, the synchronised movements, bodyweight balances, and attention on breath seem more feminine than masculine, but a closer look shows it is anything but. The angular forms, linear movements, and mechanical instruction stem from male created systems serving to their energy, with scant attention paid to the fluid, rolling, circular motions of the female.
Padmasana or Lotus can be one of the most challenging and frustrating poses for a yoga practitioner. The ankles, knees and hip joints all have to be mobile and the muscles in the legs and the hip girdle have to be flexible. It is all too common for the knee to be injured trying to put the body in lotus before it is ready, so first a word of caution: take your time. There is no rush and it really doesn’t matter if you never ‘get’ Padmasana.
A friend within the Ashtanga community recently reached out to me because she has been struggling to find a way into her practice such that it supports her fatigue and depression. She wrote, “I have had chronic fatigue for many years, and used to find my practice helpful with my energy levels, but lately, I’ve been struggling with the intensity of the practice.” Often the instruction students receive is, “Keep practicing. It will change.”