My Favorite Yoga Poses

Written by Carol Traulsen.

When I think of yoga the first and most favorite pose that comes to mind is the tree pose. A friend was showing off her balance by doing this pose and I didn't know anything about yoga at the time. But I was a dancer and had pretty good balance so I just imitated her and found I could stand on one leg with my flat against my knee with no problem. Sort of like passe' in ballet only higher up. Easy. It made me feel creative and balanced. Whether or not I can hold the pose is a very good indicator of how I'm currently feeling and how my day will go. If I am wobbly or unable to hold this position it's clear I need to focus. Fatigue sometimes creeps in and it's harder to center myself. If I can then I know that the rest of my day will be better.


Half moon is another real favorite. It makes me feel like I'm flying when I do this right. It's a good test of my balance and my flexibility. Being able to hold this pose and open my chest and rib cage all the way up for the first time made me feel as though I had really learned something. I was so excited when I could hold it for longer periods of time each time I tried it. My rib cage, chest and back aren't very flexible. So the poses that require more flexibility in those areas are a challenge for me. I was never the kind of person that could do walkovers or back bends easily so this gave me a real feeling of success and a reason to continue with yoga. It reminds me of a move ice skater Michelle Kwan does called a spiral. She's in the same position only she's gliding along on the ice. When she does this move right it brings the crowd to their feet and she has a look of shear joy on her face. That is how it makes me feel.

Child's pose is for me, the most restorative pose. It alleviates the strain on my lower back after a long day. Whether I am on my feet all day or in a chair my lower always seems to carry the strain, no matter how often I adjust and correct my posture. This pose allows those muscles to relax. It also stretches my shoulders and allows me to focus on my breathing. It's great the beginning of the day or the end of the day. There's a wonderful freely womb-like quality to this pose that I love. When I'm not feeling successful at other more complicated poses this somehow reminds me of where I need to be. Centered, calm, grateful.

Corpse pose. It's very hard to shut off the day your problems your negative thoughts. I'm still not able to but corpse pose allows me the opportunity to keep trying. Each time I'm able to do it just a little longer than before. All of yoga is about living in the moment. That is the absolute hardest thing for me to do and this pose is one of the hardest for the same reason. You're not 'doing' anything with your body but being. But you can't allow your mind to race. My mind races, plans, obsesses, ponders all while doing this pose. I notice and try to allow it to pass and try again. There was a time when, like Julia Roberts in 'Eat Pray Love' I fell asleep. I try not to punish myself over it. I know it's part of the process and I haven't done it since. Truthfully I was exhausted from radiation treatments so I know why it happened.

What's your favorite yoga pose? What has it taught you? How does it make you feel? Answer those questions next time your doing your sun salutations. Yoga may have taught you more than you realize.

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