Frustrated because your knees don’t touch the floor?
Countless times over the years I have been asked, “What can I do to get my knees closer to the floor?” with regards to Bound Angle, Seated Easy Pose, Half Lotus, and Lotus… The answer is always the same. The cold hard truth is that not everyone’s knees will touch the floor in these poses. It’s not because of lack of flexibility in hips, or lack of effort. It’s just one of those crazy misconceptions when it comes to yoga. We might have all the same bones, muscles, tissues, etc., but they are not all exactly alike. The unique shape of your bones, muscles, and tissue will determine how far you can go in many yoga poses. This is the primary reason Yoga Teachers stress not comparing yourself to others. You are unique. When physical blockage is met by the inability for a bone and/or muscle to move beyond another bone and/or muscle, it is called compression. We all have different points of compression. When that point of compression is met, there is no place left to go. No amount of stretching will change it. Some people find compression further into a joint than others. It’s not because they are better yogis or yoginis, it’s just the way their bodies were made. This is why Susie who’s been practicing yoga daily for 10 years may never look like double-jointed Joe who just picked up the practice last month. He may be able to get his heals to the floor in Down-ward Facing Dog and feel like he is the cat’s meow as he looks around the room. Whereas, Susie, may feel a little frustrated or self-conscious because she has invested so much into her physical practice and yet she cannot. For either of them, the emotional response to how well they perceive themselves performing the pose is more important than how they look. Both may be comparing, getting feedback to their brain based on what they see externally instead of examining what’s happening internally. The practice is to let go of those perceptions and just be in the pose. It doesn’t matter what the other people in the room look like, it matters how each one of us feel about ourselves. It matters what thoughts and emotions bubble up. It matters how present you are in your own body. Who cares if your knees touch the floor? The teacher doesn’t. The teacher is ecstatic that you showed up. The other people in the room don’t care what you look like in the pose. The only person who cares is you. The question is, why is it so important? Why does it matter to you? The next time you feel inadequate while practicing a yoga pose, be curious about the feeling of inadequacy. Ask yourself those questions. That’s when the real yoga happens.