Asanas (Poses) – do I HAVE to do the pose this way? part 2: no, but…

101 Sports Poems - The Poems
Click for Listing

“the intent of this blog is to incrementally build a body of thought that works toward integrating various topics, yoga, fitness, and the arts – it’s a process…”


Asanas (poses) “do i have to do the pose this way?” part 1: no…

Asanas (poses) “do i have to do the pose this way?” part 2: no, but…


Part 2

the opinions and ideas that follow are meant as general suggestions; each person should check or have checked with their medical professional regarding the suitability of their own practice of any posture or asana

part 1 is my attempt to say that each of us are unique, and that general pose guidelines are just that, guidelines

asanas are not a drill team exercise, not a machine, and should not emulate the sensation of mass production


as the old saying goes, we’re all different, yes, but we each can only jump so high in general, can only be so tall or so short within a range, and must breathe and eat within a certain time frame

ie, there are limitations as to how “free” we can be with our bodies

my own perspective for these guidelines, til proven otherwise, is to follow the type of guidelines generally used for safe and effective exercise; for me, those guidelines are informed by my studies with AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) and also reinforced by my studies with Zumba, SilverSneakers, and most yoga teachers

i have no doubt studies from other national fitness certifiying organizations, such as ACE or ACSM, are equally valid, but since i haven’t studied through them, i don’t feel qualified to refer to them

AFAA has developed what they call the 5 Questions regarding any exercise; safe and effective are two of the question components

safe and effective are used by almost every fitness program i’ve come across so far

SilverSneakers has frequent referencs to ROM (range of motion) and countless other movement and condition factors, such as how to determine “your” proper resistance for resistance tubing

Zumba‘s instructor workshops likewise, while encouraging “feeling” those suave latin side to side beat moves, reminds that feet and knees should remain aligned on those twist outs

and prominent yoga instructors, like in this interview on the yoga lunchbox, say, “asana is individually adapted to the individual body so that the energy body aligns properly and the prana flows…I help create a condition where a student can experience prana in a safe, open, and exploratory environment.”


the question then isn’t if there are useful guidelines a person practicing a pose should consider; it’s what is it that should be considered?

my trusty response comes up with two potential answers a person considering yoga might review

one, as per most fitness theory, barring being hooked up to a wireless heart- and/or other body activity monitor with large flat screen at the ready, or stopping the routine and thus getting a false reading, is the value of RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion)

RPE is determined, as per this site, “by paying attention to your overall effort, fatigue, and breathing during exercise…” –

sound familiar yoga fans?

there does appear to be a commonality among fitness activities, and a google search of RPE seems to begin to confirm that notion

a disadvantage of RPE is you the practitioner must become actively involved in the monitoring and evaluation of your rate of perceived exertion

an advantage of RPE is you the practitioner must become actively involved in the monitoring and evaluation of your rate of perceived exertion

yes, self awareness cuts both ways  😉  like any freedom

continued conscientious effort seems to definitely have made doing my own RPE easier; it’s a mandated cue for instructors in a SilverSneakers class

Meow...Leo doing the "Couch Potato"
Meow...Leo doing the "Couch Potato"

so, for example, i have mild scoliosis –

and while extending my stay in a seated twist pose that feels good to me, i begin lifting straightening rising in spirit and body as i inhale, eyes brightening –

then, twisting lightly firmly gently as i exhale keeping head and neck and spine aligned –

again, releasing lightly and rising lifting on a new inhale –

once again, twisting turning uhk…exhale; time to release some of the tension and sit through a few inhales and exhales, actually as many as i need, and see if i can resume, or slowly unravel…

it’s my responsibility to hone my RPE, it’s my responsibility to practice consistently developing sensitivity strength and confidence in my practice (“a practice” is the in-yoga way of saying “doing something you like consistently and conscientiously” – nice huh?)

it is also my responsibility to say to a teacher if a particularly helpful re-arrangement of my body parts just ain’t workin

two, find a teacher, or companion, you trust, and, who in turn, trusts and respects you

though suggestion # 1 was way longer being made than # 2, it may be the other way around in how it happens, that’s ok

ideally, these two components will merge

bottomline, the question for a yoga fan may eventually be, do i need to go my way?


in a comment to a great running thread on the yoga lunchbox, i wrote:

“hopefully, from my pov, once a student has absorbed the discipline and consistency of being in a class, that person will find the ways to blend those competing needs of needing more instruction, needing to explore alone, and needing companionship, without feeling it’s an either/or choice.”

so, maybe the question is, should there by a new RPE for yoga?

like, “Range of Pose Explored, Yoga” or would that be, RPEy 😉


Asanas (poses) “do i have to do the pose this way?” part 1: no…

Asanas (poses) “do i have to do the pose this way?” part 2: no, but…




About Me



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.