Friday, January 4, 2013

Yellowstone, and Garbha Pindasana troubles

Ah... I am finally in Pocatello, Idaho. I got here a few hours ago, checked into my new apartment, carried whatever little belongings I have into the apartment; I basically packed only whatever I could fit into my Mitsubishi, which is not very much at all, for this move. What this means is that besides a bunch of clothes, some kitchenware, some toiletries, and my computer and camera (and yoga mat and rugs, of course), I have nothing else to fill my apartment with! Which presents a good opportunity to meditate on the Buddhist concept of emptiness, I suppose. But I think I'll go thrift-store-shopping tomorrow, and see what I can pick up.

I'm happy to say that the trip from Bozeman to here, which took four and a half hours, was relatively smooth and uneventful. Well, I did have to drive through some mountain roads in Yellowstone National Park. And since I have little experience driving through mountains, I was probably driving quite a bit below the speed at which seasoned mountain drivers are used to: A few times, some impatient driver behind me would ride my ass for, like, fifty miles, and then pass me at the earliest opportunity. Oh well... but I did manage to stop at a nice little turn-out and take a couple of pictures of Yellowstone:

 There is supposed to be a frozen river here, which I did not quite manage to capture.

In the foreground of this picture is, of course, my trusty Mitsubishi. 

What do you think? Pretty cool, don't you think? But the most beautiful pictures were those that I did not manage to take. A few times during the drive, I would pass through stretches of road lined with evergreens on both sides, with the mountains in the distance, and the sun casting intricate patterns of light and shadow on the road. But it was simply impossible, not to mention unsafe, to stop in the middle of the road just to capture these scenes. Things like this really give me a renewed admiration for photographers who can simply perceive and then capture instantaneously such fleeting poetic moments on film. For me, the poetry would have to just live in my head and in my memories...


I was feeling a little tired when I first started writing this post. But all this writing and thinking has given me a second blogging wind, and now I feel like talking about yoga again. What to talk about? Let's talk about an asana that I've noticed many people having difficulty with: Garbha Pindasana. Before I start, I guess I should say that I am not trying to make light of the very real difficulties that many people face in this posture. What I'm trying to do, rather, is to talk about the difficulties that folks have had with this posture in a light-hearted manner, with the hope of shedding some light on this posture. I understand that it is widely seen as bad form to make light of a posture that one has little difficulty with, and you might hate me for doing this (although I hope you don't), but really, why make a difficult posture more difficult by taking everything so seriously?

Anyway, here's what I have to say. Over the past few years of practicing at various shalas and reading blog posts on this asana, I have noticed that people who experience difficulty with Garbha tend to fall into one of two categories:     

(1) The beachers: These are people who, after getting their hands through into Garbha, manage to do two or three rolls, and then roll over and become unable to get up, like a, well, beached whale. Hence the name. 

(2) The jerkers: These are people who, after getting their hands through into Garbha, do a series of very quick, jerky movements which are supposed to be rolls, but never quite generate enough momentum to complete the circle and come up into Kukkutasana. 

I personally witnessed a jerker in action recently. At a recent shala that I practiced at, there was a jerker next to me. I couldn't help noticing her jerking, even though I wasn't wearing my glasses and couldn't see so well. Part of me wanted to stop my own practice, walk over to her, and suggest to her that maybe if she would try curling herself deeper into a ball and then try to use her bandhas to roll more slowly and deliberately, she might be more productive in this posture. But I was afraid she would think me nosy; besides, it kind of goes against shala etiquette to give people asana suggestions when you are not the teacher, right? So I left it at that. But the image of her jerking frantically and frankly, futilely in Garbha stuck in my mind. This, combined with some recent posts on difficulties with Garbha that I read in the Ashtanga blogosphere, made me decide to write about this, at the risk of being the object of public outrage. 

Like the other core postures of Primary (Mari D, Supta Kurmasana, etc.), getting proficient in Garbha takes a lot of work. But I really think that curling more snugly into a ball and engaging the bandhas and breath more (as in: Exhale, roll down, inhale, roll back up) to facilitate the movement really makes a difference in being able to work productively with the posture. Or, as Kino would say, use the pelvis as the steering wheel of the posture. Here's her video on this posture: 

As always, Kino has a way of boiling a very complex thing down into a readily accessible image (in this case, using the pelvis as the steering wheel). And she also gives some useful tips about what to do if you find yourself beached. 

Alright, that's enough blogging for today. I think I'm going to try to get some sleep now in my less-than-full apartment. More later. 


  1. Glad you made it safely, Nobel. I think this statement of yours is very good advice and very true: "Why make a difficult posture more difficult by taking everything so seriously?" I've adopted this approach to Kapotasana after a mighty struggle and I feel better about it all - including the fact that it may never be any better than it is right now. I don't have the feeling of angst I had around the pose. Also very true about sucking the belly to the supine and curling very deeply up into a ball - I'm discovering this movement is also the key to Karandavasana. Take care - Kristen

    1. Yes, I think you are definitely right that this is definitely also the key to Karandavasana.

      The thing about Kapo is, we just have to do whatever work we can without obsessing too much over it, and then see what unfolds. So yes, not taking things too seriously is quite definitely helpful.

      You take care of yourself in Delhi too.

  2. I'll try that tomorrow :).
    Good luck at the Goodwill.

    1. Thanks sereneflavor. I think my Goodwill hunting will be fruitful :-)

  3. Thanks for the pictures. Rock on in Pocatella!

    1. Thanks Dialog. Rocking on should be easier here, with so many mountains around :-)