Back when I was doing my British Wheel of Yoga Teacher Training course, I remember our tutor commenting that there was a feeling in the British Wheel that teachers were offering lots of prep but not so many postures in their classes. “Where have all the postures gone?” became a bit of a catchphrase at the time.
It’s true to say we do need to warm the body up before performing more challenging postures in order to avoid injury. We also need to do counter-poses after the main posture so that we relax the effects of the main posture. For example, a strong main posture that is a backbend might be followed by a twist and then a forward bend as counter-poses. So each class is going to consist of a mixture of movements and postures that prepare and counter-pose for the main posture. We also benefit from some quiet time at the end, when the body can absorb the benefits of the practice before we move on. That doesn’t always leave a lot of time for ‘proper’ postures.
According to the ancient wisdom of the Gheranda Samhita (translated by Ian Mallinson);
“All together there are as many asanas as there are species of living beings. Shiva has taught 8,400,000. Of these, 84 are pre-eminent, of which 32 are useful in the world of mortals.”
It would be a pretty tall order to include even these 32 in a daily practice, let alone 84! So, why not try another way of looking at the issue? By doing plenty of preparatory work we can aim to maintain the body in a state where a variety of postures can be successfully practised if we choose to, even if we don’t do them daily. For example, I rarely do boat pose (navasana) but I do prep work for it each morning. So when I do want to do this posture, there is no struggle. That prep work also serves me well for any of the standing balances and strengthening poses such as plank. This way I get all the benefits and save time too! Can’t be bad!