I came across some photos just recently that I took of myself about two years ago, near the start of my yoga journey. I wanted to record how particular poses looked so that I could understand what I needed to work on. It was a learning exercise. I didn’t understand how to interpret the sensations in my body to have much of a sense of what I was doing. I needed visual feedback.
The one that caught my eye was Bakasana. At this point I’d just managed to achieve some wobbly balance on my hands and I thought this was just magic! I was as proud as I could have been. It just seemed like a miracle. And I was very happy to have that captured as a photo. Just in case I could never manage this again, I’d have this to look back on and marvel at.
Bakasana was a big deal for me. It was the first pose I worked at consciously with any degree of perseverance. I face planted a lot! I mean a lot. And I always had bruises on my upper arms from bearing the weight of my knees down on the them heavily. I didn’t know how to do the pose and I didn’t know what resources I could consult to help me understand the structure. All I had to go on was a picture and the fact that I’d seen someone doing it. The learning process towards the pose taught me so much — not just about how to do Bakasana, but how to approach a challenge in yoga, about the relationship between poses and what preparation poses might be, about fears and frustrations… All that stuff that I am now familiar with as aspects of my practice.
Seeing this old picture got me wondering about how my Bakasana looks now. It sure feels different. So I took another pic and compared them.
And then I picked myself up off the floor where I’d collapsed laughing!! 🙂
The poses just look so different. With this comparison available my first attempt is now far from being a source of pride, but just looks hilarious to me. I’m clearly hanging on for grim death trying to stay off the ground, my knees are falling out to the sides and are too low on my arms. The pose looks so heavy. My Bakasana today is so much stronger and higher and has a certain lightness about it. It’s clearly a big improvement.
Yet today’s picture doesn’t bring me the surge of joy and pride that the first photo did at the time of taking it. Instead all I can see now are areas for improvement and questions about technique: I reckon I should be going for greater lift in the pose that would be visible through a more strongly curved spine and straighter arms, with my knees pulled higher up into my armpits. The angle of the pose seems all wrong somehow.
Yeah well, I’ll get there in time. The progression between the two pictures suggests that much at least. But will I feel the same surge of excitement when I achieve a ‘better’ Bakasana as I felt in my first babycrow hops into this pose? Only if I consciously practice santosha (sense of contentment) as much as I work on my Bakasana!
I am deeply ambivalent about posting pictures of myself doing yoga poses and we’ve all read the debates (yoga porn vs. inspiration etc.). But for me personally in this small blog I’d like to share with you where I’ve been and where I am now, in a spirit both of deep humility but also a certain pride. I’m very shy about sharing, but this is my yoga.