Thursday, February 17, 2011


Very excited to read this week that there may be a new planet (not Pluto's reinstatement.  I still call you a planet Pluto!). Apparently there is a theory that this is actually a dwarf companion star to our sun, and was responsible for mass extinctions on Earth.  Originally referred to as Nemesis, it is now called Tyche, who was the good sister of Nemesis.

R. Sharath Jois in kandasana
In our practices, we all have poses that are our nemesis.  Not those which are so out of our current reach, like kandasana (my knees aren't there yet, but it obviously can be done), that it is not worth getting upset when we cannot do it, rather those poses that we think should be within our current grasp yet consistently elude us.

Mine is urdhva dhanuarasana, upward facing bow or full wheel. I have toiled with this pose for as long as I can remember.  I should have the strength--drop from handstand to crow, no problem! Press up to handstand from navasana? 5 times? Where do I sign? It is an intense back bend, but if I can hit camel, I should be open enough in the upper back/shoulders, and if I can lay flat in supta virasana, I should have the mobility in the hips.  Right?  Right?

It has taken me years to come to terms with this pose. The block may be physical.  It may be mental--I am comparing my pose to others, and comparing my pose now to my perception of where I think it should be.   It may be spiritual--for some reason I do not want to open my heart in an inverted position.  Regardless of why, for many, many years I have dreaded this pose.  Have to psych myself into it, scream at myself to breathe through it, and resist the urge to be angry or disappointed if I try and nothing moves.

When I committed to practice in the Ashtanga tradition, I committed myself to face this pose every time I am on the mat.  It is part of the finishing sequence, so it is done every practice.  No way around it.  On a mental level, this has helped--the pose is there as a matter of fact, it will be faced every day.  I am finally at a point where I can (occasionally) self observe and analyze what is moving and what is not.  I can accept that the first one is horrendous, but the third feels better.  Most importantly, on occasion, I can see through this pose how I handle difficult situations.  Get mad or try to avoid are the defaults.  How does that change? By facing it again and again.  Even if nothing moves, if the pose is a complete ball of awkwardness, it has been successful.  Maybe if we face our nemesis over and over again, it will become Tyche.  Just maybe.

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