Look at my thighs, ye mighty, and despair
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.