What am I doing in this pose?
Simple questions can lead you down interesting rabbit holes.
"What are you doing in this pose?"
I ask my students this question in many varying ways. Sometimes, I ask them to notice their breath, sometimes where their weight is on their feet, sometimes their energy level. Learning what you are doing in a given pose is a central premise of my classes, my teaching, and my personal practice. When you stop to ask that question, you start to learn.
I've written about paying attention before (here's one post on the topic), but it bears repeating. When you stop to ask what's going on, you begin practicing self-awareness. Let's try it right now: What position are you in as you read this? Where is your weight? Is there tension anywhere in your body? Are you breathing? How deeply?
You don't have to know much to ask questions. You don't need to know what to do with the information you glean either. Not right away, at least. It's in the repeated asking of questions and noting what you discover that you begin to learn patterns: what positions you sit and stand in most commonly, where you hold your tension, how you breathe, etc.
There are no inherently bad movements, but there is the problem of moving in habitual ways for many years on end. This leads to misalignment as certain muscles overwork and others become atrophied from lack of use. Muscular imbalance and skeletal imbalance feed each other. You can't just address one or the other.
As you notice patterns, as you discover imbalances, you have the ability to decide what to do with that information. If a movement still serves you, fine, but if a movement pattern is leading to or has led to injury, it's time to make changes. Imagine traveling a long distance in a car. You reach an lake and need a boat. The car is not suddenly a bad vehicle. But it no longer will help you on your journey. The boat is not superior to the car. But it is necessary now that you are going to travel by water.
When you start asking questions, it is probably because you need a new vehicle, a new movement pattern. Most people come to my classes with an injury of some kind or another. As they settle into the practice, get more comfortable with the postures, the questions finally begin. "I've noticed that my knee hurts when I do this pose." "I have trouble breathing in this pose." "My hips don't move in this pose." All these revelations are the beginning of learning. At this point in the process, I can do more than lead people through shapes. I can begin to teach. Specific teachings to specific bodies.
It all starts with asking simple questions, questions that lead you to notice habits. Once you discover those movement patterns, you can discover whether and how to change them.
Deep, and not so deep, thoughts on bodies, movement, yoga, art, shoes, parenting, dogs. You know, life.