The cue I was given about tucking the lower ribs in Kapotāsana made no sense at all — my brain didn’t understand and said so. “Why would I want to do that?” I asked my teacher. “Why indeed?” was his rather Delphic response which made me giggle. And hey presto — it turns out that the act of laughing has exactly the effect he was looking for in my ribs!
Before you think I was being the most annoying person ever in class questioning the teacher’s instructions in front of a room full of students, I should say that this was a private session. I’d asked for some help in understanding where my hips are/meant to be in various āsanas. I’m trying to gain some greater sensitivity here so that I feel more confident in self-correcting and in avoiding the one-way street that is wear and tear.
We looked at some poses in a deceptively simple way, or rather a humblingly subtle way. Every time I feel like I’ve gained some level of understanding, a whole new horizon opens up. Here a major lesson for me was how much you can work on even when in a very shallow expression of a pose. Refining, adjusting, feeling, exploring. It’s not all about pushing deeper, it’s about feeling more deeply. I might reconsider some of my home practice — the days when I don’t feel energetic are actually an opportunity to explore the surface in detail as it were, provided I’ve got the concentration for the depth of listening required.
The key take-away for me in our exploration of how hips move was to learn to trust what I hear and to have the confidence that what I know is enough for now.
Something else that made me laugh today was us remembering a conversation a year or so back when I complained that I didn’t feel much going on in my body when I moved. All of that proprioception and enteroception stuff that I’m now fascinated by seemed like it applied to everyone’s body but mine. Now I’m working on reacting instinctively but wisely to the multitude of physical messages I get, trying not to get the brain involved but letting the body sort itself out. And then there’s the enticing possibility that an absence of sensation might be a fantastic pointer towards the mythical creature, the sthira sukham āsanam! So a new possibility of inhabiting that sense of ease… oooh! These are major steps!
Once again yoga does its subtle stuff. On the outside we were looking at kapotāsana. But really we were probing more fundamental stuff about trust, ease, confidence, self-worth… Love, life, the universe, and everything.
So I come away with lots of stuff to work on and embed in my practice: how to stabilise hips and shoulders by drawing into the socket, not ‘hanging out in the ligaments’ but being mindful of the connective tissue, finding a natural range of motion without creating pull and tension, developing a sweet relationship between pelvis and lower back, and so on. I’ll be back on the mat before the end of today trying to recreate some of these sensations again and remind myself.
And sometime I’ll make a quick anatomy check with the books (what the trochanter and the ASIS are). But that bit can wait. Lately the lessons have been about getting the thinking brain to take a back seat, so let’s go and explore without a map.
This is topsy turvy to my usual way of doing things. Clearly the handstand effect continues!
It all makes me think of the quote I’ve seen attributed to David Life: “Think less, feel more. Thinking got you into this mess, so more thinking is not going to get you out.”