I asked a question of my students recently - which postures were favourites and which were least favourites. I already have a good inkling about these things as it's often apparent when postures are popular and some that aren't....some postures though are what I call 'marmite poses' - some people love them and others really don't!
Sometimes postures are popular as they are easy to get into and provide restful opportunities (savasana anyone?), some are harder to get into but provide an 'ahhhh' moment once there (bamboo garden). Other postures are unpopular, again ranging from the easy to get into but providing a feeling of intensity once there (intense toe stretch!), but often providing a very beneficial stretch, whilst others are harder to get into perhaps due to our own individual anatomical or skeletal structure that makes rotating the legs a certain way harder than others (saddle pose) or it is too strong for the knees or perhaps just a bit of a muscular and stretching challenge (crab crawl perhaps).
Chart 1: Favourite Postures
The standout marmite pose however is Sleeping Swan... one of my own favourite postures. For those who practice with me on a regular basis you'll know that I don't actually teach this posture very often, even though I find it exceptionally beneficial for lower back pain myself. It can hurt knees, it can be difficult to get the external rotation into the forward thigh and also a strong stretch for back leg hip flexor - finding balance and ease in the pose can be a challenge. In my survey, Sleeping Swan came top in student's favourite postures, with 21% of respondants loving it. In the true spirit of yin and yang however, it was the second least favourite posture (only beaten by intense toe stretch, 35%) for many students, 17% not enjoying it - a true marmite pose.
Chart 2: Least Favourite Postures
Other top favourites included the supported inversion, Bamboo Garden, Savasana (or final relaxation), Child's pose and Dragons. Other least favourites were Dolphin pose and dreaded Crab crawl! In the interests of balance I will continue to teach all of these postures, including my own least favourite, Navasana (or Boat pose) to add interest, variety and challenge. No posture should ever cause pain - you and your body are your own best teacher and if a posture ever causes pain rather than simply a comfortable stretch, then it is nearly always possible to practice a variation or alternative to ensure you practice safely. Namaste.