As part of a regular practice we sometimes find that a pose will become our favourite – it targets the area we feel is most tight, it makes us feel energised or grounded, it comforts or challenges us, or perhaps because we can do it while brushing our teeth or watching the telly!
We decided to ask the balance teachers what their favourite pose was in their personal practice – and why.
Maureen Smith (Beginners, General, Improvers, Experienced, Aerial, Postnatal, Pregnancy)
Favourite Pose: I don’t have a favourite pose, but I like do practice poses a certain way. I like to spend time setting up each pose, checking the alignment of each part of my body (for example, my feet & hips in trikonasana) and then using props to vary my experience and enhancement of the pose. Throughout each pose I respond intuitively being aware of reactions to my movement and making subtle adjustments.
Gerry Kielty (Beginners, Yin, Yin & Yang, General, Improvers, Experienced, Teacher Training)
Favourite Pose: Like how I often begin my classes I love to mobilise starting with ‘rolling down’ and ‘uncurling up’ through my spine.
Why? It’s so accessible no matter how you are feeling and you can literally feel the skeleton gently recalibrate along with teasing out the stiffness in the lower back, neck and back of thighs. This can be done anytime…even as you wait for the kettle to boil.
Jane Damer (Beginners Plus, Wake Up, General, Improvers)
Favourite Pose: I do not have one single favourite pose, I have a collection that always feature in my own practice. Right now I’m focusing on a strengthening routine which includes things like held plank, slow chaturanga, back raises, forearm plank, ardha navasana to navasana slowly etc. Any strength sequencing I do would always include some flexibility too like, down dog, up dog, lunging, king pigeon and a supine twist towards the end. If I had to be pinned to one favourite pose I would say king pigeon as it feels very releasing of tension and I do it regularly. Nice pose to do when tired.
Why? I do this routine for stability (I have a few historical injuries) and am aware as I get older how important it is to weight bear to maintain bone density and muscle tone to prevent injury. There are also areas of my body that can be prone to getting stiff so releasing tension in hips, hip flexors, lower back is something I also work on. Ultimately I am focused on combining stability and strength type movements with length and flexibility. Finding the balance between the two is important to avoid instability and tight muscles.
John Clark (Dynamic)
Favourite Pose: Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)
Why? I often find I have days when I can perform this pose with relative ease and others when I have great difficulty. The success or failure is often directly linked to my state of mind at the time, with the calmer my mind the greater success I have. I also find that small details can make a great difference such as pressure on certain parts of the palm or the position of the head. It is also a pose that can be continually improved as we can improve our alignment or look at different entries and exits from the pose. Finally handstands are pretty cool!
Sarah Potter (Yin & Yang)
Favourite Pose: Once upon a time, my favourite yoga pose was Urdhva Dhanurasana, or Upward Bow – the strong backbend with hands and feet rooted to the floor. Two babies later, I can safely say that Upward Bow isn’t a pose I manage to pop into as much. I’ve had to modify my practise. Luckily, I met yin yoga just before my first pregnancy – it’s a form of yoga which has kept me mobile, strong and sane through the sleepless nights and lively days. I love the way the long-held poses challenge you whilst having a calming effect. Yoga Toe Stretch is a great example.
Why? It looks easy. Two minutes into this pose and you realise there is more to yin yoga than meets the eye. The sensation in the back of the toes is intense. The pose demands attention to your breathing to stay there. The release of coming out of the pose delivers a deep bliss. Many of us hold tension in our feet, causing the backs of the toes to become tight, that’s why the sensation of opening the back of the toe joint is so strong. Yoga Toe Stretch helps maintain good foot mobility and strength, it’s like a mini reflexology session too. I practice this pose all the time; when I’m playing with my children, bathing them or putting them to bed, or just when I have a rare few minutes of peace.
Eileen McCann (Overs 60s, Restorative)
Favourite Pose: My practice informs my teaching, and the people I teach informs my practice, so it’s a feedback loop, based on season and balance between strength, flexibility and movement, and the ability to be still in the pose. At the moment my main focus is on the back, principally on mobility in the mid back and shoulders, with some strengthening actions in cobra pose and camel pose. The sequence of poses for this practice are: First sequence: Cobra pose (Bhujangasana), Bow pose (Dhanurasana), Pose of a child(Balasana), Second sequence: Camel pose (Ustrasana),Pose of a child (Balasana),Happy baby (Apanasana variation), Supine twist (Jathara) The sequence changes, but a backbend will always be followed by a counter pose of supported forward bending.
Why? First this is personal for me as I am using my back frequently and have to strengthen but also relax my back and shoulders. I also have a strengthening practice focused on hands, wrists, shoulders and upper back which I also include in my practice and also in classes. Most common practice includes: Chaturanga (Plank) Vasisthasana (Side plank) Bakasana (Crane pose) With rest poses, wrist flexing and counter poses.
Saffy Setohy (Slow Flow)
Favourite Pose: Pigeon pose.
Why? I used to find it really challenging and feel a slight rising panic in it. It is such a deep pose and I used to be much tighter in my hips and glutes. The panic is not there now and it feels more relaxing (though still a deep stretch!). It is a nice reminder of how our experiences, bodies and practice can change over time.
Katie McInnes (Beginners Plus)
Favourite Pose: Cat-Cow pose
Why? An old faithful – comforting, warming, lengthening and strengthening.