I have realized that the trick to landing the duck lies in striking a balance between establishing a snug, stable lotus in Pincha Mayurasana, and rushing to come down. If one stays too long in lotus in Pincha Mayurasana, one wastes energy; energy that could have been put to good use in activating the muscular control needed to land the lotus. On the other hand, if one rushes to get the lotus to the upper arms, one simply crashes to the ground. The key to finding the balance between holding too long up there and coming down too soon, I have discovered, lies in the breath. For the last few days, I have been using my breath to guide my lotus down to my arms. Starting from lotus in Pincha: Inhale, stay, exhale, curl/lower the lotus towards the arms a little more. Keep repeating this process until the lotus touches the back of the upper arms. Very good exercise in Uddiyana bandha, I must say. On average, it's been taking me about four or five breaths to get from lotus in Pincha Mayurasana to landing the duck. I'm quite sure that this way of landing the duck probably ends up taking more breaths than the standard vinyasa count. But well, it is what it is. I got to work with what I can do at this moment. Maybe when I get stronger/more proficient at Karandavasana, I will be able to reduce the number of breaths I need to take to land the duck. In any case, I don't see myself doing led second anytime soon, so no need to worry too much about this, I think.
Be that as it may, I can already see and feel some tangible physical benefits from my work on Karandavasana thus far. For one thing, I am able to feel more strongly, and have more control over uddiyana bandha. I also think that I may finally be starting to get some of the action needed to perform nauli kriya (is this what it's called?). Yesterday morning, after practice, I was looking at myself in the mirror (yeah, I do have a narcisisstic streak...). On a whim, I decided to try sucking in my belly, and then to see if I can move it around in a circle. It worked! The movement wasn't very conspicuous, but it was definitely noticeable. Not that this matters, since nauli is not part of my daily practice. But it's kind of fun to do anyway ;-)
Just thought I'll share my latest practice insights with you (not that you really care anyway...). In his recent post, Grimmly writes that he sees his journey through the second series as involving a warrior narrative, as a process which involves "confronting and defeating one foe (read posture) after another such that I've never, until now, been able to relax with the series." I think this is a compelling narrative, and it was true for me for a while; confronting and working with Kapotasana certainly felt like climbing a tall mountain for a while. Right now, for me, Kapotasana (and of course, Karandavasana) are still challenging postures, but I feel that something has subtly changed in my relationship with these postures: Without being fully conscious of it, I have increasingly come to see them not as foes/things to be conquered or defeated, but as psycho-somatic puzzles to work through. The idea for me is that each posture in the second series is a puzzle or combination lock which can gradually be opened if one obtains the appropriate key to work with and "open up" the posture. For me, the key to opening up Kapotasana lies in hanging back for as many breaths as I need to until I see my feet, and then diving for them: For some reason, seeing my feet is the "cue" which tells me that the posture is ready or "fully cooked". Of course, I am quite sure that taking those few extra breaths to hang back probably is a violation of the strict vinyasa count, but whatever; as I said, I don't see myself doing led second anytime soon. And the key to landing the duck in Karandavasana, as I mentioned, lies in using the breath to engage the bandhas to guide the lotus towards the back of the upper arms. Now all I need to do is to find the key that will unlock the secret to getting back up into Pincha Mayurasana...
In other news: I am going to be teaching an Ashtanga class at a local yoga studio here in the fall, after a two-year hiatus from yoga teaching (or, perhaps more precisely, charlatan-yoga-teaching). I am not an authorized teacher, nor have I ever been to Mysore (although I hope to make the trip there in the near future). But I'll do my best to share whatever I know and practice with whoever wants to learn. Or as the Japanese would say: 頑張ります (がんばります) (Ganbarimasu: "I do my best!")
For personal reasons (for one, what self-respecting yoga teacher would call himself a yoga teaching charlatan?), I'm not going to post my teaching schedule or teaching location on this blog. But if you happen to be or live in my part of the United States (i.e. Moorhead, Minnesota or Fargo, North Dakota), and would like to come to my class and/or practice with me, feel free to email me at siegfried23 at hotmail dot com