Expectation V Reality

So we’re here, on the island I’ve been dreaming of for years and years, Bali. Well actually, we moved to a little island next to Bali called Lembongan island. Having that image in your head, of how somewhere is going to look or feel, is a dangerous thing I’ve come to realise. A little bit like when you expect to effortlessly and gracefully contour your body into a specific posture, but the reality is very different!

I feel a little bit like I’m chasing that picture in my head, and Bali just isn’t it, yet. We are getting closer to it, especially on this little island. It’s much quieter with a calmer atmosphere. The beaches have that beautiful turquoise glow with lots of tropical fish. We still have nearly two more weeks to explore here, back on the island of Bali though, so I’m still holding out for my dream of paradise to become a reality.

Grasshopper pose or Parsva Bhuja Dandasana, was a posture that I remember expecting to be achievable, however reality knocked me straight back down, literally. It knocked me down many many times, on to my face, bottom and hips. In my opinion it’s a very difficult posture which requires strength, flexibility, balance and a steady breath. To help me achieve this asana I used to practice “baby grasshopper”. This allows your body to get ready for the full pose.

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For baby grasshopper, start by sitting down with straight legs. Bending the right leg, bring the foot to the outside of the left leg, the closer to your body the better. As you take an inhale, twist the upper half of your body out. You should now have a nice open chest. On your exhale, bring your right arm in front of your right leg, reaching for the big toe of your left foot. Hook your two first fingers around it to create a nice anchor. Try to keep the chest open and a lengthened spine. You can stay here and take a few breaths, or to take it further, plant your left hand down in front of the top of your left thigh. Inhale, squeeze your tummy muscles, push the ground away with your left hand, pull on your left toe and try to lift the body off the ground. The gaze can go directly down your floating left leg, or wherever is comfortable for you. Remember to repeat on both sides, and usually one side will be easier than the other. It’s the same for everyone I’m sure.

Once you feel ready for the full pose, here’s my guidance on how I find to be the easiest way to enter this pose. Start standing, bend your left leg deeply, sitting into the heel. Bending your right leg, place the outer side on top of your left leg, just above the knee. I also don’t like to have my foot hanging over my left leg too much. The sole of my right foot usually lines up with my outer left thigh. Bring your palms together at your chest, breathing steadily and deeply. Slowly draw your chest down whilst twisting your torso out to the left. Keep deepening this until the sole of your right foot comes in contact with the tricep (back) of your right arm – the higher up your arm the better. Next you need to place both palms down on the ground, fingers spread. Bring the weight over your hands until the right foot is almost standing on the back of your right arm. Push the energy through the heel of your left leg until it floats up off the ground. Again, like in baby grasshopper, the gaze can look down your left leg. This is a tough pose so don’t be too hard on yourself. I remember the back of my arms getting very sore from my foot slipping off. It’s entirely your choice of course, but I don’t include this in my daily practice. Try lots of hip openers before, then you might have a nice surprise when you come to trying this pose. Expectation and reality might just merge into one!

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Before you all start behaving like grasshoppers, how lovely is the door of our little homestay! These beautiful wooden carved doors are very traditional in Balinese culture. They’re not great at keeping the bugs out, but make up for it by being a cool yoga backdrop. Grace xxx

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