Karandavasana in progress

I initially wanted to film myself working in the pose, telling myself and others who see it that it’s okay to be imperfect in the pose, that every asana is a work in progress, even if you think you have “achieved” it.

I started on Karandavasana (Karandava = Himalayan duck) a little over a year ago. Besides eka pada sirsasana, it is one of the hardest poses for me. Well, actually, it’s a tough river to cross for mostly anyone. My back naturally wants to bend backwards, so it has always been difficult for me for bend strong forward aka flexion. My ribs just don’t want to tuck in.
For the past year, however, I’ve gotten more and more control of my tucking and flexing, and a few months ago I was finally able to descend with some sort of control. Who knew, as I was filming myself the other day as a memorandum of my progress, that my knees magically locked in place on my upper arm for the first time ever. I didn’t even notice until all of a sudden I found myself resting almost comfortably on my upper arms. For so many months I had been fighting this pose–just fighting, fighting, fighting. But what came at that moment as my knees locked was a sense of ease, comfort, and steadiness. Sthira sukha–the ultimate goal of yoga asanas.
I’ve let myself release. I’ve let myself surrender to the intelligence of my body and of the pose. Of course, there is the second part of karandavasana, which is lifting the legs back up, and all laws of physics are broken.

 

And in case you’re wondering what the whole thing looks like, here is Russell Case, an authorized Ashtanga teacher residing in San Francisco, demonstrating.

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