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We're back with another Practice Makes Progress, and this time I'm looking back at how far my grasshopper pose has come.
In the first picture, I was in Dubai, and was still in my super skinny days with little muscle due to the types of workouts I was doing. In the second picture, I had been lifting heavier weights and had cut out my long cardio for about six months or so and was beginning to finally feel results. Let's look at the key points of the pose.
Starting at the base - my hands - we can see in both photos I have good alignment. My elbows are directly over my wrists which means my wrists are safe. You want to watch out for the elbows going outside of the wrists. That means you're collapsing into the outside edge of the palm and it can really hurt the wrists. My hands are also just wider than shoulder distance, which is what I think works best for grasshopper, so thats great.
Moving up from there we have the shoulders. What's happening in the top photo is that I wasn't strong enough to support myself with my arms, so by squeezing that arm into my side, I have a little nook on which I can rest my upper body. Now 'rest' is the key word there. You never really want to 'rest' in a pose like this. We want an active line of energy. It's not necessarily wrong to do what I was doing - that is basically the beginner stage of grasshopper - but you just want to be careful because as you can see, my shoulder is rounding and I'm really collapsing weight into the elbow and shoulder area. No bueno! If I have pushed a little more into that hand (our right, my left), I might've been able to bring that shoulder into better alignment.
In the bottom photo, we can see I've built up enough upper body strength to hold myself up with my arms, rather than having to collapse my weight onto my arm.
Next, let's look at the foot that's perched on the arm. This is the part many people struggle with because it requires a good amount of flexibility in the hips combined with the torso rotation needed for the twist in placing the hands down. If this is the part you struggle with, work on hip openness. In both pictures, my foot is ok - but in the second one it is higher up the arm which just means my hip flexibility increased.
Lastly, let's check the gaze. The gaze should be out on the ground in front, and it looks like I'm doing that, so that's all good.
Above all, keep practicing whatever it is you're struggling with. Take breaks when you need to (like, week-long breaks if you need them!) and go easy on yourself. As cheese-fest as it sounds, the yoga practice is a journey. There's no final destination. Just show up to the mat, and practice, practice, practice.
Let's talk: What poses are you struggling with? What poses have you seen the move improvement in?
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