Kapotasana with only one leg? Say what?!

My first attempt at Padangushta Danurasana

My first attempt at Padangushta Danurasana June 2014


INT. London Flat – Sunday Morning

JOY sits on couch obviously upset. 

DAVID enters.

David: Are you okay? 

Joy: Yeah. 

David: You don’t seem okay. Are you upset?

Joy: I’m not going to be able to do it.

David: Do what?

Joy: 4th series. After my Kapotasana today I tried Eka Pada Kapotasana and I can’t even balance.

David: What? You haven’t been given that pose. 

Joy: I know!

David: And then to try it and get bummed at yourself-

Joy: I know but I couldn’t even balance! David I couldn’t even balance with one leg stretched out and the other in the kneeling position.

David: There’s a reason I haven’t give you that pose.  


Joy stares at David.


I wish I could tell myself that I’m kinesthetically inclined but I’m not.  My gifts are in storytelling not in being physically able or athletic.  As a kid I played on soccer teams, tennis, gymnastics, jump roping, ballet, skiing, basketball…in short I’ve always needed to move and whenever I’ve asked my mom to tell me what I was like as a child her answer has been,

Rachel: You never stopped moving. I didn’t know what to do with you. You had so much energy. It was too much for me! You wouldn’t sleep. 

But a lot of energy has never translated into being a star athlete. On the soccer field I was known as a hustler and fearless but yet most of the time I sat on the sidelines with one other girl.  It was embarrassing and it only became worse as the other girls grew hips and tits and I wouldn’t for at least another few years.  I was meant to be in the theater not the field.

There I am at age 23 doing something resembling Dwi Pada.

Age 23

Now when I first begin my Ashtanga practice I was quite young, still a teenager, and I believed Ashtanga would make my head explode with artistic ideas. I had way more energy then I do now. I can remember boasting to David one day after Mysore class

Joy: I just did the Primary in 45 minutes.

What?! I think about that now and am actually confused…How the hell did I even do that? I must’ve looked like I was on speed.

At that time Ashtanga kept me away from parties and allowed me to focus on my art.  David taught me the system and I worked it to the Maximum T.  Six days a week. I never missed. I followed the count to precision. And that’s what I did for four years. There was no other thought in my mind except,

Joy: Follow the count. Finish. You got to get back home to work on your script.

David would try to give me instructions but the need for actions, understanding foundations…

Joy: You’re bothering me. Don’t talk to me. I know what I’m doing. I don’t need your help.

And then in my mid twenties something happened.  I aged a bit and all that thoughtless Up Dog caused back pain and the thoughtless forward bends strained my hamstrings and the shoulders creeping forward in my chaturanga caused shoulder pain.  Pain, Pain everywhere and I was 25.  I will never forget the day I walked into practice and all I could do was a couple Sun Salutations until the pain started.  I can remember David giving me a look.  The look was a combination of sympathy and questing,

David: Are you going to start learning now? Will you let me teach you? Are you going to accept my help?

For a good couple years I hated practice. Every day was a battle to not quit. David started to slowly give me instructions and I slowly started to receive them.  The pain would go away but then a new pain would arise. He would give me instruction, I’d receive them and that was how I slowly gained kinesthetic awareness…through pain. It took about 4 years for me to understand how my body worked at a foundational level and how to integrate his teaching from one asana into another.

And then at 29, 10 years after my first Led Primary class, and 8 years working with David, my practice and understanding of breath, vinyasa, dristi, band has and dhyana had evolved to the point where I could safely begin to study Third Series.

A couple years ago.

DG Breitenbush Mysore Intensive 2013

David: There’s a reason I haven’t give you that pose.  


Joy stares at David.

Why the ‘Beat’? Because one of my deep, deep samskaras is that I hate not being able to do things in this world on my own.  It drives me crazy that I can’t just do an asana. In that “Beat” I just want to scream at the universe for giving me an inadequacy.  I want a more flexible back, stronger legs.  I want to do it alone. I’m capable enough, strong enough, god damn it I have fought, put thousands of hours on my mat to learn how to back bend and I can’t even begin to balance? To make a start at the posture?  THE UNIVERSE IS NOT FAIR!

David sits on couch next to Joy.

David: Don’t worry. I’ll help you. 

But then again maybe the universe knows exactly what its doing.

Joy: But its going to be so hard.

David: So what.

That’s my cue for the fearless hustler to come in to the game.

Marichyasana F Germany In-depth study June 2014

Marichyasana F
Germany In-depth study June 2014


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