Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kapo-attachment/obsession, breaking the no-watching-Kapo-videos rule

Over the last couple of weeks, as I added the leg-behind-head postures to my practice, I have also almost simultaneously discovered that Kapotasana seems to have gotten more difficult for me. It just seems to take a more lot effort to get my hands to my heels in the pose; I'm not sure if this is due to tighter shoulders, not enough engagement in the thighs and front body, or something else altogether that I am as yet unaware of. In any case, I have heard quite a few stories of Ashtangis getting less deep in Kapo because of the shoulder-strengthening/tightening effect that doing the second half of second series (the LBH postures and the arm balances such as Karandavasana) tends to have on the body. According to these same Ashtangis, the effect is supposed to be temporary, and one should, ideally, get back the depth of one's backbend in time. Of course, in yoga terms, "temporary" could be Dirgha Kala--long, long time. Oh well...

Of course, if you are familiar with the concept of Vairagyabhyam (non-attachment), you will know that getting or not getting one's heels in Kapo (or getting anything physically, really) is not the goal of the practice; the goal, if there is one, is to try one's best, smile (or shrug), and then move on to the next posture in the sequence in accordance with the vinyasa count. And try again tomorrow, and see what happens. And then rinse, repeat, and try yet again the day after tomorrow.

However, it is one thing to lecture other people (or even lecture myself) about vairagyabhyam; actually putting it into practice during practice is quite another. Despite my most rational efforts to remind myself of the virtue of vairagyabhyam, I still find myself trying very hard to get my deepest Kapotasana every single time I get to that pose. I know, I know, I totally suffer from Kapo-attachment/obsession, even though I try not to let on on this blog that I do. Well, now you know...

Anyway, earlier today, I had to break my no-watching-Kapo-videos rule. I guess I should tell you something about this bizarre rule: I impose this rule on myself, because I have this idea that if I watch Kapo videos, I will tend to form an image in my mind of the person in the video doing Kapo when it comes time for me to actually do Kapo during my own practice. It's hard enough to do this formidable posture in my own body. Why make it harder by also picturing somebody else doing the same posture at the same damned time that I am doing it?

Especially if that somebody else goes by the name of Kino MacGregor. Anyway, as I was saying, earlier today, I finally had to break my no-watching-Kapo-videos rule, because I really needed to get some ideas as to why my Kapo is getting harder to do, and see if there is any way to make it, well, less hard. So I went Youtubing, and the first video that came up on my list was Kino's recent video. Damn! Now I know I probably won't be able to make any Kapo videos for Dirgha Kala (not that I would want to...): In the video below, Kino goes into Kapo, grabs her heels, and talks you through it the whole time like she is taking a stroll through the park. I would be huffing and puffing like a (sacred?) cow. But as always, Kino does have some very useful advice for the posture. Two points are particularly pertinent:

(1) Firm the thighs, and ground the knees firmly into the ground to set up a firm foundation for the posture. This also takes pressure away from the lumbar spine.

(2) Allow the belly/abdominal muscles to release, and draw them up and away from the pelvis.

Now, why do I have this bad feeling that I am not going to be able to get this image of Kino going leisurely into Kapo out of my mind when it comes time to do Kapo during tomorrow's practice? Well, we'll see what happens then... Oh, and by the way, here's the video. Enjoy.


  1. thanks for sharing..

  2. It is funny. I had not read this, but last night watched several kapo videos myself - all Kino - hoping for some insight. As usual, the best insight I got was - keep practicing. Did you see her other recent kapo video where she starts from reclining in Virasana, clearly lifts her pelvis, and then walks her hands up into the pose? It has helped me. I still can't get my heels, but I've been spending a little extra time working the pose from Virasana (only after dropping into for five breaths the traditional way first) and I feel like I'm understanding it better. In fact - I've come to really look forward to practicing it, rather than feeling anxious as I approach that part of the line up.

    1. No, I have not seen her starting-kapo-from-virasana video, but maybe I'll see it soon (or not). Actually, in Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar recommends going into Kapo from Supta Virasana as the beginner way of getting into it. I actually tried this for a few weeks way back before I started practicing Ashtanga. And you're right, this way of entering the posture does give you a certain appreciation of certain aspects of the posture. But I also found that it somehow also makes it more likely for you to rely too much on the lower back muscles to get into the posture (which leads to lumbar compression). Whereas if you are dropping back into the posture like in Ashtanga, there comes a point where you somehow just know intuitively that if you don't open and engage the front body, you won't be able to get anywhere. At least, this has been my experience.