Look at my thighs, ye mighty, and despair

On September 10, 2012 by Eden M. Kennedy

A funny image popped into my head the other day when I was in yoga practice, working on kapotasana. This is what kapotasana is supposed to look like:

This is not what kapotasana looks like when I do it, because my spine doesn’t arch nicely like this man’s but flattens out into a shallow curve like a rotten footbridge. A collapsing fairytale footbridge beset by trolls. Despite all that,  I try to keep an image of the final version of the pose in my head while I’m making a shallow footbridge with my back and warding off trolls with my mind.

At this point I imagine one or two of you wondering loudly why a person would want to do this at all. My answer is that even when you’re doing it badly it feels fantastic. It’s a ridiculously powerful pose. I practiced yoga for six years before my teacher gave me this pose and it blew my fucking mind. I once spoke with a woman far younger and more flexible than myself who’d only been practicing 3 months when she was given this pose, and she believes that because she hadn’t put enough time into strengthening her nerve channels, this pose caused her to have what felt like a psychotic break. I can’t tell you why, other than that it’s a pose that requires equal amounts of intelligence, strength, vulnerability, trust, awareness, and the inability to imagine your life without it.

Anyway, to come out of this pose a more accomplished person will push their hips forward until their thighs are perpendicular to the floor, and let their spine roll up smoothly until their head comes up last. When a less accomplished person such as myself comes out of this pose with a nice, stiff back, I look like Nosferatu rising from his coffin.

I’m working toward not rising up like Count Orlok by wringing every bit of strength out of my quadriceps, and that’s why the other day when I was coming out of kapotasana incredibly awkwardly, I had an image of the muscles just above my knees being made of birthday cake. I had a very real sense that every delicious bite of yellow, crumbly birthday cake I’ve ever eaten in my life has settled just above my knees, and it’s doing fuck-all to help me out of this pose.

Comments

comments

13 Responses to “Look at my thighs, ye mighty, and despair”

  • I really don’t think I do yoga correctly. All I ever feel is my body bending in a way that isn’t exactly comfortable.

    • Well, I don’t know what kind of class you take but I find I’m a lot happier when I let go of striving to make a pose look how I think it should look, since my goal is to find a physically and mentally comfortable “seat” no matter what pose I’m in. Maybe you need to back off just a little and find a place where you can breathe easily no matter what.

  • Also, I’d like to note that this is the first animated gif I’ve ever made and it makes me really happy.

  • Nicely done, Ozyfussias, Queen of Queens ;)

  • Considering that camel makes me want to cry, I don’t think this is a pose I’m going to get to any time soon.

  • Yes, it’s two poses after camel! In between is little thunderbolt pose, and together all three of them make me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

  • A girl sees a title like that and thinks she might get an eyeful of Eden Gams. And then there’s just Nosferatu and a coupla unidentified yogis. Story of my goddamn life.

  • Hee hee! I have been that person rising out of the coffin, trying to get out of some pose. Now this image will always be in my head.

  • I haven’t done yoga in a while, but it always blows my mind how many emotions are just sitting there in the various parts of my body, waiting to be let out. For example, any time I bend my ankles a certain way, all the sadness I felt my freshman year of college (which is a very specific, seventeen year old sadness), just comes welling up.

  • That pose is is also an intense heart opener, so yeah it does big things to you. Like kaPOW big.

  • Have you read this? It’s a trip. This guy was researching this history of yoga and didn’t find what he thought he would find.
    http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/2610

    • I’ve heard a similar conversation over the years, that yoga was influenced by “British gymnastics,” and that’s fine. It doesn’t diminish the powerful effect the practice has had on my entire being.