Friday, October 19, 2012

Kapotasana: Some practice notes

It seems that I can never say enough about Kapotasana; actually, talking about Kapo seems to be becoming my default thing to do when I find myself running out of yoga-related things to blog about... well, actually, there are a few very interesting things happening at work right now that are yoga-related in a very bizarre kind of way. But I try as much as possible not to talk about work directly on this blog, and I have yet to find a way to talk about these interesting things indirectly. So... let's just talk about Kapo.

I recently wrote about how Kapo seems to be becoming more difficult for me, probably as a result of the shoulder-strengthening/tightening effects of adding the three leg-behind-head postures to my second series practice. It turns out that the solution to this issue is, quite simply, patience and time. And I mean this in two ways. First, as many of you out there who do second series know, the shoulder-tightening effects of the LBH postures and the arm-balances (i.e. the infamous Karandavasana) is supposed to be temporary, and one should, ideally, get back the depth of one's backbend in time. So if one just continues to practice jusdiciously and carefully, the shoulders or whatever-it-is-that-is-tight should open up with patience and time.

But there is also a second, more immediate sense in which one can apply patience and time to the practice of Kapotasana at a time like this: Simply hang in the posture for a few breaths (or more) longer, rather than dive for the feet right away. This is what I have been doing over the last week or so. On most days, I would hang for up to 10 breaths and bring as much awareness as possible to the mid/upper back at the same time. I would only go for the feet when I can see at least one of my feet in my field of vision (ideally, I should be able to see both of my feet all the time, but I think my mild scoliosis causes my back to open up unevenly, so that one side of the back opens up more than the other. At any rate, this is my theory...).

The interesting thing about hanging in the posture longer like this is that when I actually go for the feet, I can pretty much get the heels right away, without having to grab the toes or mid-soles first and then walk the hands to the heels. I have also noticed that hanging in the posture longer allows me to lengthen and stabilize the breath more, so I am not huffing and puffing like a cow (although I am still not as at ease as Kino was in that video I posted last week...).

Yesterday, I even tried speaking to the cockatiels while holding my heels in Kapo, and I am pleased to report that my voice actually came out sounding quite normal and even. Which is a big improvement from a couple of years ago... I can still remember when I first started doing Kapo a couple of years ago: I was in the posture at my teacher's shala in Milwaukee. Somebody on the other side of the room saw me in the pose and said to me, "Nice work!" I said "Thank you!" in response, and was horrified when my voice came out as this weird-sounding croak (who knew that Kapo can turn you into a frog?). Which elicited a big laugh from everybody in the room. Yes, I sometimes double as the class clown when I'm in a shala (usually without intending to...)

So yeah, patience and time is the solution to tightness in Kapo (and probably to many other things as well...).   


  1. I'm gonna try this long hang back today Nobel and see how it goes! Thanks for sharing the info!!

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