4.26.2011

More than I Bargained for

(source)
 So I've been wondering aloud whether S would give me Kapo before the new teacher takes over the class.  She's leaving in a few weeks and just gave me Laghu on Wednesday.  Last night, not only did she give me Kapo, she took me all the way to Bakasana B!

Kapotasana.  Was.  Awesome.  Many of the poses in Ashtanga, particularly 1st and 2nd series, are familiar to me in some variation or another.  Most of them I've tried at least a few times, if not practiced fairly regularly.  Kapo, however, I've always shied from.  I just never thought it possible.  I have never identified as a "natural backbender," one of those pixies with a rubber band for a spine, so I have generally kept to a few familiar heart openers and backbending sequences in my practice, assuming all others beyond my (here we go again) "natural ability."

I identify as a person with tight shoulders.  I have often thought, "I have tight shoulders. My shoulders are tight and inflexible.  This is the way they are."  This type of dualistic thinking has blinded me to the true extent of possibility, not just in my asana practice, but in my life.  Kapotasana is perhaps a small, silly example of the metaphorical door that I assume is locked because it's always been locked, though, in actuality, it may be unlocked and, should it be opened, lead to a more complete understanding of reality, a clarity previously unimagined.  Until I jiggle the knob, I'll never know.

Yeah... Kapo is like that.  You've gotta jiggle those knobs once in a while.

Anyway, after Laghu, which I managed to lift myself out of with S's precise instruction, she told me come to my knees after the vinyasa so she could give me the next pose.  Now, I suspected she might give me Kapo before she leaves, but I didn't expect it this week.  The first time, she had me go as far as I could on my own, and then gave me a little push to help me get my hands to my feet.  As it turned out, my feet weren't nearly as far from my hands as I thought they were.  After I came out, I told S as much, and she said I could try it again.  The second time, I walked my fingers in to my feet and held my toes for five breaths without assistance.  My elbows did not quite touch down, but it was amazing nonetheless.  Kapotasana B highlighted a big imbalance of tension in the left chest, shoulder and wrist, probably from carrying heavy trays of food on that side for seven years.  Now that I'm no longer waiting tables (again I say hooray!), I can finally address this imbalance.

After Kapo, I figured we were done.  I was wrong.  S had me come to seated, and we did Supta Vajrasana.  I wondered what would happen when I came to this pose since lotus is out of the question.  S simply had me sit in Sukhasana, a simple crossed legged position, and held my wrists as she rested her legs on my knees.  After the vinyasa, she asked me if I wanted more.  I asked her what was next.  When she said Bakasana A and B, I said, "of course!"  I love Bakasana, and I've missed the arm balancing in my practice these past few months as I've explored Primary more exclusively.  I landed Bakasana B with a minor toe-to-the-floor infraction and S exclaimed, "It counts!"  Haha!  I love her.

Drop backs were really good.  I suspect Kapo may have produced that effect since the shoulder extension is mainly where my drop backs come up short.  I've struggled with standing up for the past week.  I seem to have developed an irritating mental block that pops up when I first try to stand.  I go for it anyway, but the fear makes it stiff and I have to step backwards to catch myself.  After the second or third attempt, I'm usually able to smooth it out and keep the feet rooted, but the first couple stand ups have been pretty rough all week.  Maybe I need a stand up ritual.  S told me she says a little prayer before every single one.

So... now I've got quite the beastly practice on my hands and I wasn't even looking for it.  Primary + 2nd up to Bakasana B.  Let's see where this takes me.

7 comments:

  1. Congrats on starting the journey of kapotasana! So my hunch turned out to be correct :-)

    I still don't consider myself a natural backbender, even though I can grab my heels in kapo now (on good days, I can get my ankles). I have to put in so much work every single time I do kapo that the description "pixies with a rubber band for a spine" simply doesn't apply to me. Maybe I will become such a pixie in the future, but definitely not now.

    Bakasana B is fun, isn't it? :-)

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  2. Nice! More evidence that one should stand up and drop back prior to Kapo, and I agree, Kapo before backbends of closing is pretty delicious.

    Sounds like a mellow Mysore room in its rules; they're not all that way :D

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  3. Very nice, you've advanced so much in a short period of time. I gotta try kapotasana tonight. No instructors had ever given me the option to go to kapotasana. Thank you for sharing, Megan.

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  4. Great news on the kapo frount, sure you'll enjoy it.

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  5. Nobel - You called it. ;-) And yes, Bakasana B is fun. Funny story: I've played with jumping into Bakasana in the past, and I can do it fairly reliably, though I haven't done it in a while. When I landed it (more or less), S said, "Most people don't get it on their first try." I wanted to tell her that it wasn't my first try, but I was mid-vinyasa and still not clear on the rules for talking to the teacher during practice so I let it go. Not wanting to be dishonest, I almost brought it up after the vinyasa, but I didn't want to dwell on it at the time. It felt odd bringing up again... "oh, by the way, not my first time." So now it's really bugging me that I let that slide and I feel like I should call her at home or something and tell her the truth. Oh well.

    Patrick - Yeah, I'm pretty sure Kapo wouldn't be so approachable for me now if not for the work I've been doing with drop backs. And yes, it is definitely a fairly lenient room. I think S is authorized with Manju even though she has practiced with Sharath and Guruji, so that might have something to do with it.

    The Ashtanga community here is rather spread out and transitory, so I suspect the teachers here are just really excited to have a student with (if you'll allow me to modestly toot my own horn) strength and dedication. As a teacher, I feel the same way when I see a student with an obviously strong and long-standing practice walk into my class.

    Linh - It's true that I've been moving through Ashtanga at blazing speed. As I was saying to Patrick above, I think they may be giving me 2nd series rapidly out of excitement at the opportunity to share some things they might not normally be able to teach.

    Grimmly - Thanks! I'm already having quite a time with Kapo. Practice today was one for the books. Afterwards, I felt like I'd been hit with a big yoga truck. I may need to tweak my diet if I'm going to make it through this stuff alive every day.

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  6. COngratulations :) I saw 2 students doing kapo on Sunday - they took turns to cheer each other on. It was amazing to see it in person.

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  7. Thanks, Yoginicory! It certainly is a powerful pose.

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