Thought I'd lost my heels in Kapo for good ( I mention this in this post on 'Surrendering up' ), how many times have I said that? I notice I said it back in July last year, catching them for the first time in three months.
My excuse this time was that I've spent what, half a year working on Krishnamacharya's approach to asana in Yoga Makaranda, slow breathing, ( 8-10 seconds inhalations and 8-10 second exhalations with kumbhaka ( breath retention) where appropriate), long stays etc.
Breathing has been so slow that I found I had to practice half, even a third of a series or sequence and even then still had to cut postures out of standing ( although I'd cut different postures on the following day).
No Kapo for ages.
When I did start practicing kapo again recently I was barely catching my toes and that was OK but, that said, heels do matter in kapo. I'm not so bothered anymore about getting my ankles back but heels make a nice handle for bring yourself into a nicely stable posture, comfort and steadiness are the name of the game.
So I was pleasantly surprised that my kapo was feeling so good yesterday ( I'm back doing the first half of 2nd series in a Vinyasa Krama approach, IE. Bow and Meditative sequences), that I thought I could reach back a little... and there they were, my heels, right where I left 'em. I tried to work on the slow breathing I'd been playing at with my toes kapo and it seemed pretty good that I thought I'd film it this morning and double check.
I managed five slow breaths....at least I thought they were slow but I was actually only in the posture for 30 seconds, you do the math....not so slow after all.
Not sure if I'll be catching the heels from the air again any time soon but still.
Here's the video.
More of a Vinyasa Krama ( Meditative/ Vajrasana sequence) approach to this Kapo although a little speeded up. The postures after Kapo usually come earlier in the sequence but I;m using them here as counter postures.
So now what?
Ankles? calves? knees!
Or 10 breaths, 20, 25, making them slower, deeper, fuller?
I'm reminded of Ramaswami writing on utkatasana
Bandhas, Breathing and making the most of Utkatasana
"When one is able to stay in the posture (utkatasana) for three to six breaths, then one should slowly increase the time to complete a stipulated number of breaths. Thereafter, one should remain in the posture for a predetermined number of breaths chosen by the practitioner or teacher, or for a fixed persiod, say three to five minutes. Then one's practice should be aimed at reducing the number of breaths while remaining in the posture for the same duration. for instance one may take a total of twenty breaths while in the posture. Later on, it may be possible to remain in the posture steadily and comfortably (sthira and sukha) for five minutes with perhaps only ten breaths. This is one method for attaining asana siddhi (perfection in posture) that one can test of oneself. Having achieved this level of comfort in the posture, one can then introduce the band has, which will increase the time taken for each breath".
Yoga for the Three Stages of Life. S. Ramaswami.P 127
How about a new project, working on longer stays and slower breathing in Kapotasana. Prashant Iyengar has his Trikonasana, perhaps I should work towards an Alpha and Omega of Kapotasana. I have another video on here somewhere of a 25 breath Kapo (see below) in the 25-50 breaths a posture Rishi series, the stay was about a minute and a half. Which frankly seems a little laughable to me now as I write this, 25 breaths in 90 seconds, supposedly we tend to breath 12-15 breaths a minute in regular day to day breathing. Iyengar does say ( Light on Yoga), however, that breathing will be short in Kapotasana due to the constriction of the diaphragm.
A provisional aim then, is to build back up to that length of stay but reduce the number of breaths to as few as possible.
If you get the time over the weekend take a look at Ramaswami's newsletter posted yesterday. A good intro to the Philosophy behind Ashtanga, and what's going on with cittavritti, it's all about mental and physical space.
And see the free download from namarupa of Ramaswami's article on Mudra
Seems Ramaswami is going to be a regular contributor to the magazine.
"Included in this volume is a free download about Mudra by Srivatsa Ramaswami. We hope to make Srivatsa Ramaswami's articles a regular feature going forward."
Robert Moses & Eddie Stern
Namarupa, Categories of Indian Thought