We've all heard the expression, 'it's not the result, but the journey that matters'. In Zen Ki Yoga, it doesn't matter if you can't do an asana or a movement, as long as you are doing a little bit the right way, it's better than if you 'look like' you are doing the pose, but using all the wrong bits!!!
Often in yoga or anything really, we often try too hard. Trying is great, but when we go too far, it can cause problems. Often we try so hard, we actually cheat a little bit so we feel like are going further than we really should.
If you've done a few Zen Ki Yoga classes in the studio or online, you will be able to follow me here... Say you are lying down on your back and we have the elbows close to our sides with our fists pointing up and the legs are straight and we want to lift the buttocks up... (pictured).
Now many people don't have enough functionality in their back in order to lift the bum off the floor while they stick with all the rules:
- don't bend the knees. In fact keep them locked out really straight.
- don't let the feet drop forward. Keep the feet pulled back.
- don't let the legs/feet roll outwards. Keep them pointing straight up.
- don't slide the feet upward toward the bum as you lift. In fact, push the heels strongly away as you lift.
If we stick with these rules, we usually can't go very far, but at least we are working the right bit of the body - EVEN IF WE DON'T EVEN MAKE IT OFF THE FLOOR. We are still getting a similar benefit to someone next to us, who completely clears the floor with their bum! I have actually started teaching for students to press on their calf muscles (the midline or the slightly inside of that) and not their heels at all and I find them getting more from this move anyway as it eliminates the 'possibility' of all the common mistakes mentioned above.
This is one of the hardest points to teach people and if we can understand this, we will get quicker results, more changes from the yoga and therefore gain a healthier body and mind!
If we were to let the feet slide up for example, then we are crunching into the lower back as we try to strengthen it - but what we end up really doing is weakening the spine. If we do the right thing and push the heels away - even if we don't get off the floor, then are are lengthening the spine as we strengthen it. So we are getting more from the exercise by the journey and NOT THE END RESULT!!
This will be the case for most exercises. As soon as we veer off the path so it looks or feels like we are doing the same as in the video, or in a class, the same as the other people in the room, then we are usually doing ourselves more harm than good. We really have to check our ego, put it aside and accept that our body has limits (and some days more limits than others) and just do what the body actually is able to do not 'what we have decided the body SHOULD BE ABLE to do'.
Less is definitely more. As long as we are also, of course, doing our best.