In a recent episode of a dance show I like watching, one of the judges adviced the contestant that sometimes, less is more. That reminded me a lot of taking a step back and “lessening” seeming effort to actually gain more.

And so in todays class, I emphasized that: less is more. I said this in the context of pulling back from poses and using the support of props to find more integrity in a posture. 

Often times, people think that touching the floor is the main goal of the practice. By pushing more in the pose, we actually accomplish less.

Take this lunge for example:


See how she collapses into her front hip and cannot efficiently use her back leg to anchor down for support? Going up the chain, what do you think it does to her sacroiliac joint? Her shoulders? Her chest? She’s probably squishing into her groin and compressing her belly in tbe process as well, thus compromising her breath and not recruiting the right muscles to create strength and stability in the posture. In her quest to do more by reaching the floor, she gains less from the posture (unless a potential for eventual injury due to repeated stress is what you’re aiming for). 

However, when you dial it back and take “less” of the posture by supporting yourself with blocks, you end up with this:

  

She is now able to draw that front hip back slightly to find a more neutral pelvis that doesn’t pull on her SI joint, nor collapse into the outer hip. Her back leg is solid and strong. Her spine is long and her chest is lifted. Even the back of her neck is steady and her head nicely stacked, rather than the way it dropped in the first photo. She can access her belly more which allows her to gain the strength and stability to stay here comfortably for longer, and perhaps eventually lift her torso up and find high lunge. There will be a lightness to her torso. 

Now, many people think taking blocks or props is only for beginners or those with lacking flexibility. I disagree. Even more advanced practitioners can find new depths and expressions of the pose. As one of my students recently said: I never realized what I thought my hips were doing was different from what they were actually doing. Now that she’s taken less and used props to help her, she’s found more strength and integrity in the poses. What’s more, she says the soreness she gets sometimes after class is not the pain she thought was normal, but actually the response of muscles being worked.

So, say it with me: less is more. So stop forcing those legs straight, worrying about getting the hands down to the floor and doing “more” in a pose while sacrificing strength, stability and sustainability in your body.

Thank you Teacher Roxanne for demonstrating how we can make unconscious mistakes in our poses and how the support of props can change the experience of a pose. 

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