Modern Yoga v2.018 - Body Malfunctions

Body malfunctions are a routine and normal part of Yoga practice and one of the benefits of practising Yoga is that as you progress, you get to hone your awareness skills to a level where you can notice your body malfunctioning in every single asana. But when your Yoga teacher says soothingly, “Be an interested observer of your body”, what they really mean is “Will you stop flapping your arms/legs/head around!” 

Leg raises

For some unknown reason, your legs will not go straight when you are lying on your back and lift them up. Everyone else in the class undertakes this movement with carefree abandon. Apparently, when you were born, you were allocated the extremely short version of hamstrings.

You get to the stage of being able to lift your legs up with something resembling straightness. You are so pleased that you try and hold them in this position nonchalantly, except for the tiny tremors that have begun to affect your stomach muscles. The tremors become force 8 on the muscle earthquake Richter scale as you hold your leg there for the next 30 seconds. Then the posture ends and you drop your legs down, realising, as you start gasping, that you hadn’t actually been breathing – at all.


In between some lovely moments of relaxation, the teacher instructs everyone to sit back onto their heels and you experience the intense pain of the front of your foot cramping in your attempt. You writhe around in agony, clutching your foot and wonder if the teacher might be doing this on purpose to you after you arrived embarrassingly late for the class.

Extreme postures

You watch your Yoga teacher/instructor demonstrate an extremely challenging arm balance/headstand/handstand. You think they are pushing it.  And then you think, “if they are pushing it, just imagine what I’ll be doing!” This is the time to speak up and ask if it’s OK to do this one, because you might have high blood pressure/low blood pressure/a suspected heart problem and perhaps you should just have a bit of a lie down instead.

Forward bends

You watch the teacher demonstrate a forward bend, moving smoothly into the posture. But when you do it, your body moves about halfway into the same position, then gives up, goes on strike and refuses to go anywhere else.

Backward bends


Twisting postures

You are developing a real sense of relaxing deeply into your practice in a lying twist posture and are feeling very accomplished. Unfortunately this becomes a state of such a deep internal relaxation that before you can stop it, you realise that the sound of the fart you’ve just let rip is now echoing around the studio. The silence is intense.


At the end of the class, there is a group chant of “shanti, shanti, shantih” repeated 3 times. You have always had a tuning issue, highlighted when the school music teacher directed you towards badminton rather than school choir, but you gamely soldier on through it. You lose count of how many shanti’s you should be doing and start on one (hurriedly ended) when everyone else has finished. Then there is a blissfully still moment of silence - which is also a collective sigh of relief that you’ve stopped.

Happy Yoga! (and don’t stop chanting please.)

Barbara Dancer