24 August 2014

It's Called "Awkward" For A Reason

I have a new "least favorite" posture (outside of Triangle, obviously).

The Sanskrit name is Utkatasana.

In class, it's known as Awkward Pose.

I call it a pain in the ass.

It's a three part pose, and I have difficulties in each part.

First, one must stand with feet hip-width apart -- about six inches. Interestingly, I no longer hear an instructor say, "... two fist-widths distance between your feet". Then the arms are extended out in front of the body, palms facing down. While keeping the feet parallel and the arms extended and the heels on the floor, you are supposed to sit down until your thighs are parallel to the floor (as though there was a chair there for you to sit in). There is always an instruction to arch the spine back while keeping toes, heels, knees, and hands all six inches apart. This seems to be an impossibility for me... I can lift my head up and get my neck straight but my shoulders are always angled forward and I see no way of "arching" the spine back. All the while, my hands are beginning to shake, and for some reason, the joint where thumb meets hand cramps up -- to the point where I have to flex or shake my hands to get them to relax. Then, a brief respite of sorts:

"Change. Come back up. Keep your arms there". Man, that hurts!! Sadly, though, we're just getting started.

"Second part. Stand on the tops of your toes (like a ballerina). Bend your knees and come down halfway...". Only I cannot. I try and try and topple and fall over and over. I have tried standing on the balls of my feet. No dice. I have tried to "wedge" my feet up where the toes meet the foot and stand in that "crease" of sorts. Nope. I have tried to fan my toes out and try to grip the floor. Negative. I either topple forward (I think because my gut screws up my center of gravity) or my calves can't stand the strain and I have to return to a flat-footed position. If you read from "Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class", it states:

"Give it all you got. Every time you think you've risen as high onto your toes as possible, you haven't. There's always a "higher" and "forwarder"... The farther forward and upward you roll the insteps and the heels, the farther backward you must lean to be anywhere near straight-backed."

I have asked instructors for tips, and while they can demonstrate the idea, I still have no clue. There is a disconnect somewhere between my brain and my toes. I'll keep trying.

"Change. Keep those arms up! Come up slightly on your toes and bring your knees together to start. Inhale, stomach in, and you go down. Slowly. At least ten counts. Spine straight position. Leaning against the (imaginary) wall. Hips 1/2 inch above your heels...." Before I hurt my knee in April this was the easiest part for me. Four months later I am just now feeling confident that a) it will take the strain and b) that it will be nearly painless. Even on my best days, however, I have really concentrate so I don't rock back and forth and fall out of the posture. As for that next bit about bouncing "up and down like a motorcycle ride", well, that would simply make me fall out. 

Finally, the instructor calls out for us to come back up and complete the posture. I am gassed damn near every time and the first part of Eagle always seems to suffer for it. My arms are dead, my legs are shaking and I feel defeated. 

Every so often, when I'm waiting in the lobby or locker room, the subject of "hardest postures" come up. I hear "Camel" or "Triangle" or "Standing Head to Knee". I never hear Awkward Pose mentioned. Am I missing something here?

Knees up, heels up!!


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