Viparita Chakrasana, &c. • 29 January 2009

John 5:8

And Jesus said, Arise, take up thy mat, and walk.

Luke 7:22

Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk… the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.

Gautama Buddha

A man on his journey comes across a vast river. No boat goes to the other side, nor is there a bridge for crossing over. He then gathers grass, wood, branches and leaves to make a raft, and crosses the river with the help of the raft. After crossing safety, he leaves the raft at the shore and goes on his way. In just the same way, I have taught the Dhamma similar to a raft; it is for crossing over, not for getting hold of.

Ashtanga 3:2

And the ashtangis said, cast off thy crutches and practice. Hast ye so little faith in method? Doest thou fear the way so much thou wouldst flee thy breath and thy temple of the holy of holies, binding them in Hugger Mugger straps and beating them back with foam blocks? Doest thou love thy crutch more than thine body on the breath? More than the great river of I Am? The moment the crutch hast fulfilled its purpose, cast it down, that it take form of its master and slither back unto the rocks. O come ye and enter the church of flow.


  • Posted 29 January 2009 at 1:07 am | #

    Scorpion Smurf?


  • Posted 29 January 2009 at 1:22 am | #

    That’s the shape of it for now.

    I might have to consult Gargamel.

  • Posted 29 January 2009 at 6:48 pm | #

    on to 4th series, mon hibou?

    Hope the sun is shining on you today. xxoo

  • Posted 29 January 2009 at 8:38 pm | #


    Actually, not so much. I never take an intention in to practice—for me personally, practice is about intuition and experimentation and I systematically block out any advice to visualize and achieve. BUT! Today I visualized VC. Came THIS close. Might still need a potion from Gargamel the evil alchemist. Because actually I’d love to be able, finally, to VC. I hear it gives more energy than it takes.

    Once I hit it, I will have reached my zenith (nadir) of asana achievement. No 4S. My two broken big toes mean that the first of its gargoyles—mulabandhasana—will never be mine. The gate is closed unless I want to rebreak those toes.

    Nonsense has its limits.


  • V
    Posted 29 January 2009 at 9:23 pm | #

    Beautiful. Can I be admiring and a little bit wistful?

  • Posted 30 January 2009 at 4:11 am | #

    Hahahahahaha! “Probably.”

  • Posted 30 January 2009 at 7:44 am | #

    Ahh, I see. When I read this and googled viparita chakrasana I was taken straight to the 4th series page on ashtangayoga-dot-info. So there’s one in 3rd as well; I didn’t realize. I think I’m not much of an asana goal-setter. Achievement schmechievment. It’s enough getting up at 5! 😉 I didn’t even want to do second series!

    How did you break your big toes?

  • e&sj
    Posted 30 January 2009 at 8:57 pm | #

    or so I have heard – if you can do janu sirsana c, and viranchyasana b comfortably (sthiram sukham) then mulabandhasana may be within the realm of your three worlds. Janu C for me aggravates big toes more than anything (that is with a vertical foot and grounded sit bones)else I have come across.

    How come these guys can do it? What it is the proper method for “getting” postures when the astanga Word is that there is only one way to “get” advanced postures: many months/years at SKPJAYRI and “blessed” bone structure and a bountiful portion of sattvic tapas?

  • Posted 30 January 2009 at 9:31 pm | #

    Well shit. I have never actually attempted this mulabandhasana move until just now on the floor next to my desk. It’s actually no problem, so I was mistaken. Though on the right side it’s sketchy on the knee and the ball of the foot won’t reach the floor.

    Joy, the first one a horse trampled after it threw my one fall day when I was 12. Other side a minor break during a simple jump back.

    V, if I ever do it, sure. No problem. No videos, though. 🙂

  • Posted 31 January 2009 at 3:26 am | #

    I’d kill for owl vids.

  • Posted 31 January 2009 at 3:21 pm | #

    amen, sistah
    except i’m enjoying the crutches of my straps and blocks at the moment

  • Posted 31 January 2009 at 5:35 pm | #


    Don’t do it, Karen!

  • meniscusmerangue
    Posted 31 January 2009 at 8:56 pm | #

    No, don’t do that. You can have one for a fiver or four for fifteen quid. See you in the carpark in ten minutes.

  • Posted 31 January 2009 at 10:01 pm | #

    hi (0v0)
    ES&J said, regarding [snip]
    How come these guys can do it? What it is the proper method for “getting” postures when the astanga Word [snip]
    that is a really interesting site, thank you. i also like that one of the practitioners is my age. but it convinces me about what TM said that we who started ashtanga after age 27 don’t need to worry about 4th or later series poses. (i did do Marichyasana F once in a class, and do Tadasana every day in the shower.) that is why i want to get to third and get over it. but since it’s not going to be “given” to me, except by a teacher who will take compassion on me, mostly from knowing that if she or he doesn’t give it to me, i will do it at home anyway, i will be having to “give” it to myself. so far i’ve gotten the first four.

    by VC i imagine you’re referring to Vrchikasana.

  • Posted 31 January 2009 at 10:18 pm | #

    My God, sweet, gentle Arturo, the compassionate thing is to NOT give you this series. Your teacher is transmitting the practice at the deepest level by showing this compassion.

    If a person cannot do deep, full second on the breath day in day out with ease and no injury, 3S would be pure hell. It’s not just some neat tricks but a six day a week system. The practice asks a great deal of the body and more of the psyche.

    Maybe having the tricks will reward the ego, but who cares? Find something else if it’s driving your mind crazy and harming your relationship with your wise teacher.

    I mean, why not lust for, I don’t know, a good stereo? Lasts longer, sounds better, and also takes you inside if you let it. And you can share it with friends, unlike durvasasana.

    The postures are DECOYS. Don’t get shot!

  • Posted 1 February 2009 at 2:58 pm | #

    Oooh, good one! Decoys…

    Poses are the zen finger pointing at the moon.

    Quit looking at the finger!

  • Posted 1 February 2009 at 3:01 pm | #

    On the breath means with no extra breaths or connected to the breath or both? I’m curious, because I tend to see lots of extra breaths in second…

  • Posted 1 February 2009 at 3:13 pm | #

    When I was in SF there was a dude doing an (assisted, particularly in Dwi Pada) entire 2S practice, and of course I was more listening than watching, but he did it I think almost entirely breath-to-movement with something close to 5-breaths-per; the only extensions were teacher adjustments (again, I believe this is so; I didn’t count along or anything).

    A “properly breathed” 2S, in my non-standard (Monday night) explorations of it, seems to be largely about prioritizing breath over effort. This is particularly true in late Titti’s, in Mayurasana, in Nakrasana, and I imagine that 3S is even moreso about that. To quite literally forget the tricks, to lose all thrill at doing “such a rad pose.” That’s not easy.

  • V
    Posted 1 February 2009 at 5:45 pm | #

    Karen: both. I can do Second on the correct break, but with extra breaths between poses because my heart goes ballistic at certain points in the practice. So yes, I inhale when I should and exhale when I should (and Nakrasana is a tough one, Hamish has corrected my breath in that one) but I won’t consider myself proficient until I can do all the poses well AND not take extra breaths.

  • V
    Posted 1 February 2009 at 6:12 pm | #

    “On the correct breaTH”. D’oh.

  • Posted 1 February 2009 at 7:59 pm | #

    I agree with V. From what I hear, her teacher focuses on vinyasa more than on what it looks like… like every certified person I have met.

    Patrick, your description is accurate to my knowledge and also just standard procedure. If there’s a posture that takes you a lot of breath and emotion and interrupts your rhythm, that’s your edge.

    I’ve met a lot of people whose hearts raced in 2S for the first years they did it. I am not sure what this is about and have never experienced it myself (not in 3S either). I hesitate to say it’s a cardiovascular fitness thing, V, because you have always been SO cardiovascularly fit. And I, personally, was never more than a hack runner/biker/swimmer though I do have long, slow-twitch muscle-level endurance.

  • V
    Posted 1 February 2009 at 8:13 pm | #

    Definitely unrelated to cardiovascular fitness. From time to time I go take a high impact aerobics class, 80’s style, and I can always follow without shortness of breath (but my Achilles tendons are screaming the next day). It’s more of an anaerobic strain, you know, like when you do a power lifting move. It usually hits me right after Vatayanasana.

  • Posted 2 February 2009 at 1:16 am | #

    Allright…. I couldn’t zip files down to send one to Karen so I uploaded a kapo on the breath to flickr. Here.


    Note this vid is exactly 60 seconds long.

    I should just drop to the heels on the breath and stay there. That’s greed you see reeling me in deeper. I don’t usually do that shit but the camera is a bad influence.

    Halfway through, I suddenly remember the MB and you can see the effect of that bringing my legs closer to each other. Before that the legs aren’t really alive.

    Coming out, the elbows get a little crazy. The handstand exit has too much uncontrolled energy in it: it should just be a half-handstand that floats instead of timbers down to catvari.

    Otherwise, yes, it’s kapotasana.

    What kapotal will not buy:

    Glasses to replace the ones I’ve been wearing since 1999.

    Tickets to Mysore in late spring ($1250 on Cathay Pacific).

    A fantastic stereo.

    COBRA for my good UC health insurance if I don’t want to go be a visiting scholar at Michigan quite yet. Hmmmm….

  • V
    Posted 2 February 2009 at 6:31 am | #

    That video is INSANE.

  • Posted 2 February 2009 at 11:31 am | #


    I am so nervous I can barely keep my skin on. I’m not usually that vata anymore.

    Very humbling to see myself freak out about being photographed/ filmed. I tense up again watching it and can actually see the adrenaline in my body. Like practicing with a teacher who makes me uncomfortable or next to someone who makes me self-conscious. You know that chemical feeling.

    I should either never do that again or do it a WHOLE lot. Ha.

  • susananda
    Posted 2 February 2009 at 11:50 am | #

    Oh, I think you should do it a whole lot, and post them all. That’ll get you over it 🙂

    Are you really not supposed to walk in deeper? That’s no fun.

    I used to get palpitations and breathlessness in 2nd, mostly around the dhanurasanas, something about having to do it with the legs together just busting my heart open in a really uncomfortable way. I still get knocked out a bit by the end of vatayanasa – that nutty vinyasa coming after karanda, mayurasana, nakrasana can leave my heart racing. At first coping with that in parighasana was a challenge, because the chest is so cranked open there. Now I can just enjoy it! Moving on to 3rd, bhairavasana totally knocks me out and leaves me humbly gasping and quivering. Anyway, 2nd is so very much all about the breath and vinyasa and not the poses. I think it is a particular, very specific kind of stamina that can only be developed through practise of the series itself. I’d love to try led 2nd (assuming I ever get back to practising it).

  • Posted 2 February 2009 at 12:01 pm | #

    Yeah, I’d probably get to be fine with the camera. Though still photos still make me uncomfortable despite my dad’s being an amateur portrait photographer…

    This is a fascinating phenomenon. The way that opening so much or just staying with the vinyasa makes the heart ratchet up. Seems to be a response to the hard work going on subtly in the muscles? This is such an interesting mind-body thing.

    Aww… I don’t walk it in because I usually just love to fall down on to the nice hook of the heels and be done with it. But… walking in is nice too.

  • V
    Posted 2 February 2009 at 3:03 pm | #

    I don’t walk in because I know if I do, I’ll suffer for the rest of the series. Also, my teacher is quite economical. You do the pose, you move on. Exactly as you said, the vinyasa seems to be what matters to him (and obviously a certain degree of proficiency in the pose).

  • knl
    Posted 2 February 2009 at 7:52 pm | #

    I’m still back at Cries and Whispers. That refrigerator would never have been on a set for that film. For my money, this is more Jarmusch than Bergman.

  • Posted 2 February 2009 at 8:30 pm | #


    I get pretty mad at him everytime I realize we’re living the lost vignette from Mystery Train.

    Admittely, it might be pretty J.J. to have your woman drag you out of bed early on a Sunday morning while you’re still groggy to film her doing kitchen contortionism next to an 80s-era Santa Monica apartment fridge, a medicine man painting from highland Peru, a chartreuse 70s-era stained glass piece rescued from some garage, and a trivet-turned-wall hanging from the Goodwill in your college town.

    Did I mention he was smoking Camels and drinking a Maker’s Mark this whole time? There’s some soy-bacon frying up on the stove just off camera, Harry Shearer’s Le Show on the radio, and our 87-year-old neighbor is out on the shared porch yelling at dog walkers passing by down on the sidewalk.

  • Posted 2 February 2009 at 9:45 pm | #

    But…but…where’s Harry Dean Stanton? 😀

  • susananda
    Posted 3 February 2009 at 7:32 am | #

    Haha.. thank you for completing the vignette.

    V – Agreed.. I walk in on the breath 🙂

  • V
    Posted 3 February 2009 at 9:27 am | #

    I’m sure you do! I don’t. I don’t even reach my heels on the one exhale, need several.

  • knl
    Posted 3 February 2009 at 2:34 pm | #

    Oh, I’m still back at Stranger than Paradise.

  • Posted 5 February 2009 at 4:15 am | #

    I can go for that.

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