What’s your nemesis yoga pose? Not sure what a nemesis yoga pose is? Well imagine you’re in yoga class and the instructor calls out the pose you hate. We all have one (I sure do!) and we avoid it like the plague. Maybe it’s the time you pop to the bathroom, or wipe sweat off your face, adjust your yoga pants or some other time wasting tactic you can think of till the pose is over and you can join back in. Cos frankly you’d rather sweep the yoga floor than do pigeon pose (just me?). Well my friends THAT is your nemesis yoga pose, and we’re gonna talk about how you need to make friends with it!
The measure of a Superhero is always his Nemesis
There is a quote by John Assaraf that says ” do more of what you love, less of what you tolerate and none of what you hate”. I understand it on a philosophical level, however I also believe that we only grow through being challenged. In yoga everybody has that pose that just feels effortless. I like to call it a Superhero pose. For me, my Superhero pose is virasana (below).
Now 90% of people reading this are gonna be shaking their heads in disbelief, because for many this is a Nemesis pose. However, for me, this is a comfortable seated pose. I say this not to brag but to explain that we all have poses we do well (Superhero). If virasana is effortless for me, why do I need to do more of it? It makes no sense! Every superhero has a nemesis. And what I need to pay attention to, and do more of, is my nemesis yoga pose. In case you’re curious, that’s pigeon pose for me. Yuk.
7 reasons why you have a nemesis yoga pose
Right now, you’re probably thinking of your nemesis yoga pose and already cringing at the thought of doing it more often. But have you ever thought why do we have a nemesis yoga pose? Well there could be a few reasons we need to explore:
- Your body just isn’t comfortable in the pose because you need more support (ie: you need to let go of your ego). You could just need to regress and start with a restorative version of your nemesis yoga pose.
- Maybe you hate it because you’ve been avoiding it too long? It’s hard to become good at something you don’t practice.
- It could just be that the structure of your body isn’t conducive to the “traditional” alignment cues you’ve being given (see #1). Give yourself permission to break the rules!
- There hasn’t been sufficient specific warm up for the pose. Lack of warm up, or just doing a general warm up, is the bane of many disgruntled yogi’s.
- Have you paid attention to your mindset in your nemesis pose? Could it be that your negative thoughts are influencing your bodies reaction?
- Does the pose stir up emotions or feelings you’re just not ready to deal with? I’ve cried in yoga poses, been blissfully happy, and run the gamut between.
- Is there an injury you’ve had (now or in the past) that hasn’t been fully rehabilitated?
Why should I do my Nemesis yoga pose?
When we get good at something physical we do it more often. We’re good at it, and it feeds our ego. However, left unchecked and not balancing with the nemesis pose,just doing our super hero pose can lead to overuse and/or injury. Our bodies take the path of least resistance and compensatory patterns can occur. This can lead to issues with posture, or even pain during normal movement patterns. In fitness it’s called cross training, in yoga it’s called a “counter pose” or “resolution”. In a nutshell, typically the opposite of what you’re good at, is what you need to do more of in order to prevent injury.
Do more of the yoga poses you suck at
- Try more support in the pose. If this means you regress to a full restorative version of the pose then so be it. Stop giving in to your ego’s desire to do more. And instead do less, this will allow your body, to relax.
- When relaxed your body will stop holding tension. Consequently, you’ll learn to let your mind go in the pose and stop holding negative thoughts towards it.
- As a result, if you let the negative thoughts go you’ll be more willing to practice it more often. It’s all in the practice and repetition. That’s how you got good at your superhero pose after all!
- If injury is the reason your body/mind is screaming in a pose then are you doing the rehabilitation work necessary to heal? Remember that we need a combination of mobility, flexibility, stability and strength in equal measure.
- For heavens sake warm up first! You don’t expect to jump up from the couch and run a marathon! Don’t expect to come into the splits during the first five minutes of yoga class. Personally. it takes my body a good 15 minutes to come comfortably into a deep forward fold. Nevermind any other more challenging pose! Athletes do specific warm ups. Yoga poses are no different!
- Break the rules. For too long people have been told alignment cues with a “one size fits all” philosophy. Which is not the case. Depending on your sex, race, culture and structure your alignment could be totally different from the person next to you. I teach people, not poses.
- If you find emotions arising in a yoga pose that bring up stress and anxiety I highly recommend journaling, meditation, coaching, counseling and or/therapy. The mental health stigma needs lifting and we need to be comfortable getting the help we need. If you had a broken leg you’d go to the doctor. Your thoughts/emotions sometimes need the same help.
Finally, not everyone is made to do ALL yoga poses. There I said it. Nobody wants to hear it, but it’s the truth. And guess what? That’s ok! Ask instead how you can balance the superhero pose in other ways. What qualities does your nemesis have that you can find using other poses. Can you do half the pose? Seek coaching for regression exercises, and other ways to work towards your nemesis yoga pose.
Will great power comes great responsibility. This means, we have to balance our strength with flexibility, our mobility with stability. Not just in our body, but in our hearts, mind and breath.
- What’s your Superhero pose?
- Do you have a Nemesis pose?
- Have you have an emotional response in a yoga pose?
Although I have been practicing yoga a lot lately, I haven’t mastered practicing this pose yet.
Me either! That’s why it’s called a practice right? lol!
I’ve never properly practised yoga, but I totally get what you mean! I am someone who pushes herself to do what she’s not good at as a challenge.
Same! It takes time but progress is possible!
I didn’t know about nemesis yoga pose. I like doing yoga too. Its good for health.
Nemesis yoga pose, different for all of us!
Great advice, I have trouble with all of them! It comes from years and years of running and being super tight. So your advice to warm up and stretch is golden! Also I found hot yoga helps me with these too!
I hear ya! I used to run, cycle and lift. My hip flexors and hamstrings are still tight!
lmao! I can’t do this one…Amazing tips, I can’t thank you enough…I will be doing these stretches daily.
Hahaha which is your nemesis? Pigeon or hero?
This pose reminds me of the pigeon pose. My hips are not very open and it’s always hard to get into for me
Same! I did a post all about that too!
Crow is my absolute nemesis, and I know its because I don’t trust my arms to hold me up (the fear of face planting is real), but I will keep on trying! x
Have you tried it with blocks?
Morgan @ Baby Got Balance
I love this! #5 is certainly something I’m guilty of – my mindset around poses I “don’t like” or “can’t do” is easily one of my biggest hurdles when it comes to actually doing them.
100% agree! Mindset is the key for me and pigeon. I hate it. But I know I have to do it. Gotta embrace the suck, use props and let your mind go!
I love the warrior poses, those are my favorite and make me feel strong. I have no flex in my legs so I hate to do things like a straight-legged fold or laying on my back and stretching my leg straight up. But I’ve been doing them every day lately to try to work on adding that flexibility for myself. I actually love pigeon pose, though!
I agree with the warrior poses! For forward fold, is it your hamstrings or calves?
That’s great advice. My sister loves yoga. I will make sure to send this article to her.
Quarantine has gifted us lots of free time, so it’s the best time to try yoga for our physical and mental health
exactly! It’s because of the lock down I’ve finally been able to get some videos done!
Eric Rafael Gamble
I think all of Yoga is my Lex Luthor or Achilles Heel, haha. I am not the most flexible and like you said above, I like most men have thus avoided my nemesis in exchange for typical cardio or weight lifting.
However, as I am getting older I am definitely needing to face it as my flexibility lessens. Thus I love your 7+ tips on how to face my nemesis. I think personally, I am going to attempt Hot Yoga because the idea of sweating makes me feel better mentally while still helping me get to my goal!
That’s great you’re willing to work on your nemesis! Definitely see a lot of guys shunning flexibility for strength or cardio, but BOTH of those are available in yoga if you tailor the yoga to that type of training. However, that needs to be balanced with slow, relaxing stretches/yoga also!