“To approach your practice intelligently means to know all the implications of what you want to do, whether that be Asana or Pranayama, and to make appropriate preparations and adjustments.”
T.K.V Desikachar’s The Heart of Yoga.
The passage in the book goes on to give the example of wanting to travel overseas – it’s not always as easy as just doing it. You need to get a passport, then visas, arrange flights – all steps to reach a bigger goal.
The same applies with Yoga, to practice intelligently, you need to know what you want to achieve with the posture or pranayama exercise, then break it down, “making appropriate preparations and adjustments” so that it works for you.
For example, if your goal is about finding balance and stability, you might want to try a balancing pose, like Tree Pose (Vrksasana). It’s easy to then look online and find a picture of tree pose. When you type tree pose into any search, you’ll find countless pictures that look like the one below:
Now, if I were to try and jump straight into balancing on one leg like that, I’d fall (and that’s OK, there’s nothing wrong with falling in yoga!) – but it wouldn’t be helping me to find the balance and stability on the day I needed it.
Instead, I might adapt the pose to suit how I’m feeling that day. Personally, my Tree pose has either my toes on the floor for balance, or my foot resting against my calf.
But you can even practice this pose lying down:
I suppose what I’m trying to say, is that you don’t have to replicate images you see online, especially when it’s not giving you what you need. Think about what the purpose of that posture is, and then adapt it so you get that.