Warrior I to Warrior II: From Teacher-oriented to Self-care

Experiencing pain is time to learn lessons from it.

I am naturally flexible but relevantly weak and a friend suggested I attend power yoga classes to gain more strength. Following her reasonable suggestion, I went to a power yoga class. The class was Vinyasa flow style, which put poses in a flowing sequence. The instructor was an experienced teacher as well as an power yoga teacher trainer. However, after the class, my knee and back bothered me. I didn’t have any problems with the class, then what was the cause of the knee and back troubles? Yoga is supposed to be good for these body issues, so why does it have the opposite effect? Later, I tried a few more power yoga classes again. Unfortunately, every time, my back and knees would bother me after the class. I realized that no matter how good the instructor is or how well the class is arranged, without the awareness of my own body, without knowing my own body limits, I can get hurt from practicing yoga.

Time passed and I believed as long as I didn’t practice power yoga, my knees would be fine. Nonetheless, a couple of years later, without any reason, I suddenly experienced knee pain. The pain was so serious that even when walking upstairs I had to hold on to the handrail. Moreover, teaching yoga was difficult. I couldn’t put my knees down on the floor. Even the basic poses, Cat and Cow, were a torture for my knees. While the pain needed to be dealt with at once, I also wished to find a way to maintain wellness by myself. Consequently, soon after being healed by a chiropractor, I studied with Susi Hately, who is a therapeutic yoga teacher trainer and kinesiologist. Learning anatomy, body mechanics, and kinesiology from Susi Hately, I was able to shift my focus from practicing towards the “perfect” form to moving in my ranges of motion. I learnt to listen to my body instead of thinking about what the pose should look like. As a result, I could practice Vinyasa flow yoga without pain. I knew I was working in the right direction-building strength rather than showing strength.

Moving from the arms uplifting Warrior I to heart opening Warrior II can cause knee pain if we have unconscious twisting of the back knee. On the condition that we move within the range of motion, putting High Lunge (Crescent moon pose variation) between Warrior I and Warrior II helps to make the transfer smooth. By turning with the back knee soft and the back heel lifted in the High Lunge, we prevent the knee from twisting. Furthermore, by bending the back leg, the leg is strengthened.

Pain is a call to pause and listen. Listen to the body. If we can learn from our pain, there is a chance to go further. We can deepen our practice by listening and expanding the awareness of the body. Knowing our body develops the ability of self-care. Teachers can demonstrate the pose, but won’t know how our body feels. Only we, our selves, are able to listen to our bodies, and implement the practice that is suitable for our own selves. 


Susi Hately, Functional Synergy.

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