What Sanjaya Said

Yeah, yeah, I was all whine, whine, whine yesterday. Felt a little better this morning. Largely because I put things into perspective. I’ve been travelling for a few weeks, I’ve worked four weekends in a row, and damn it, I’m tired! So feeling sluggish and unmotivated is probably just normal.

For some reason, Sanjaya’s “just do it” comment yesterday made me think: “Oh, okay.”

This cracks me up. You know what regular practice does? It makes you non-reactive. Sure, I have things I react to, but much less than ever before. Mostly just work stuff that irritates me every so often. But when it’s resolved, it’s over. Driving? No worries. No reactions for the most part. Just every so often. And then it’s a case of thinking, “Hey, look how pissed I am,” and within a moment it’s gone.

So I am all whiny about practice and Sanjaya says, “Just practice,” and I read it at the end of a long day at work and think, “Okay.”

New guy at Mysore this morning. Checking things out. I did my practice. No thinking. Well, not much. Made a point of not making any decision about what I was going to do. No projecting into the future. Chugged along through primary, then did the intermediate portion. A-okay. My triceps are really sore, I’m guessing from the long bakasanas on the bhujapidasana and supta kurmasana exits. I hang out there, trying to remember how the breath is supposed to go in order to facilitate the jump back into chaturanga. Still sucking on the trying to get my knees into my armpits business, but I imagine it will come.

Backbends felt nice. I did some plain old urdhva dhanurasanas and then some dropping-back-using-the-wall ones, and then VBG came over for assisted ones. I’m all set up, bending baaaaack as far as I can and he is just standing there. I’m thinking, “Damn! Is he going to make me do this myself?!” [Subtext: “Oh God, please no!”]. Nah, he’s not going to let me fall. He waits until I’m heading for the ground and internally clocking the ever-increasing speed of my descent before he reaches out and presses a hand against either side of my hips — enough pressure to slow me down a bit. I’m understanding the mechanics of this — the balance and the coordination. Just need to get the shoulders/chest open more, so my arms can be straighter. Do-able.

Okay. Question of the day: How important is chakrasana? Anyone care to wax poetic on the reasons I should value it?


14 Responses

  1. I hate Chakrasana, but since I decided to do them every day, from about a year ago, I’ve felt my very upper back soften, and I certainly needed it (I’m one of those people who frequently roll out of Pindasana).

  2. LOL, in case you took me too seriously, I skipped two days this week because I could not stomach the thought of intermediate, so I should listen to my own advice.

    Chakrasana is a fear thing. Just press your chin your clavicle before you roll. It makes total sense as the exit for postures where you are on your back.

  3. I just really like the way it streamlines the vinyasa.

    In some places (e.g. after nidrassana) doing anything but is awkward and interrupts the rhythm of the breath.

    That said, it’s not like I like doing it. It still sort of annoys me. I had a lot of fear (more than most anywhere else) learning to do the more intense flipping (instead of rolling) version. It feels like it puts your head in danger. That’s a different kind of fear than the one you have to deal with in backbends or the postures that are immanent for Vanessa at the moment. Might be that there is a different kind of fear that chakrasana confronts and dissipates.

  4. Mmm. Something else. My friend and teacher Michael says the following.

    The dynamic postures are pretty unique to astanga. Don’t show up in Iyengar. And one thing that is really special about them, in a practice that is already rooted in movement and flow, is that they’re usually tricky. (As we’ve discussed here, often the dynamic postures feel like a flat-out joke that SKPJ is playing on your ego. I mean, garba pindasana? Nakrasana? Give me a break.) This trickyness places a particular demand on you: that you be completely present, at least in those moments of movement.

  5. i really enjoy chakrasana. two years ago i hated it. i was terrified. everytime i would do it i would hurt my neck and be sore for weeks. then i started moving into halasana and pushing/lifting myself over until i really had the strength to do this smoothly. now i can get over pretty easily. i am sure it is really ugly to see. but i feel victory in that i was terrified and now i am not. so i like it.
    and i agree with what OvO says about maintaining the fluidity of the practice. even if you pretend like you are going to do, rock into halasana, say ‘oh just kidding’ and rock back up, it helps maintain that flow.

  6. Yeah, I’ve been doing the “give it a try, then sheepishly give it up” method. I don’t mind playing it that way in home practice, but imagine what a dope I feel like in Mysore practice!

  7. I just imagine your Mysore practice is all kinds of fun and open and maybe a little chagrined at chakrasana time. I wish I was meeting you two in Minnesota, but maybe we can catch up later.

  8. My teacher has to give me a boost practically every time to get over in chakrasana. She says you must be very open in your upper back and that the key is whether you have your shins on the ground in karnapidasana. Whenever she is not available to give me a lift, I roll over into halasana. Probably have at least another year to go before I am chakrasan-ing on my own. But it does make a lovely and graceful transition when done smoothly.

    As for feeling like a dope in mysore practice, my theory is that everyone is really good at at least one pose, and everyone feels like a dope in at least one pose. It all evens out.

  9. Hi Karen
    I’m currently avoiding Chakrasana, but hearing what people are saying, I might give it a try. It took me about a year and a half of attempting it to get it. Also it took getting angry with myself for not doing it, when I saw a 60 year old man doing it next to me. But recently I stopped because I wacked myself against the neck. I will remember Sanjaya’s advice of keeping the chin in as you roll. Sometimes I do it from sitting up, then rolling. The proper way is from laying down as in halasana. Doing it that way, I have to tell myself “legs active” to get enough momentum to bring them over. Like Vanessa, I also tend to roll off from Pindasana. It seems the number 7 clavicle bone (?) needs to be lifted, not lowered, when doing it. (Or is the the number 10?) Lately I have had problems with Urdvha Padmasana, Pindasana and Chakrasana, and all for the same reason of discomfort in the neck area. I agree with (0v0) that Chakrasana confronts fears. Maybe if I attempt Chakrasana again and do it correctly, the discomfort will go away. I have not had a good practice week this week because of the time change.

  10. I made friends with Chakrasana a while back, and then gave it up again when my left wrist was messed up, and now Ch and I are back on friendly terms. The first one that I ever did without the “rolling over one shoulder” modification was like a Halasana combined with a big, BIG “military press” off the floor. It took monster strength, but after that, the musculature in my upper back and triceps “learned” the pose eventually, and now I can roll up, over, tight down dog, walk hands forward, chaturanga, etc. It gets easier once you “put it in the muscles,” you eventually learn which muscles you can not engage, and effort decreases, grace increases.
    Tova’s “halasana roll back, roll up” is a wrist-less modification I’ve used, and it’s marvelous.

  11. Karen,

    In my humble opinion, Chakrasana is just another asana. It is no more or less important than any other movement. Whether you choose to do it or not is just a reflection of where you are in your practice. The path of practice is long. Chakrasana is just another mile marker along the way that you will pass when it is your time to do so…….


  12. I enjoy Chakrasana, now that I can do it without too much thought or anxiety. For me, I had to concentrate on getting the hands flat and really PUSHING with my arms. Otherwise, too much pressure o the neck. I’m pretty okay with it now.

    It helped me to learn it to put a blanket under my shoulders. I did that a few times, and then I could do it after that. You might try it.

  13. maybe i’m odd but i think chakrasana is fun. besides convenience, i think it does help reset things. otherwise i feel like pausing to roll out my spine, but chakrasana seems more efficient. surprised at suzie’s comment- my upper back gets tense easily, and that’s why i like rolling on it. hmm.

    at first i just did the one shoulder thing at home. a teacher asked why i didn’t do the pose, and i said i was scared. but that motivated me to overcome the fear, especially since i could imagine four year olds doing rolls no problem!

    for a while i had to make myself do it, but now it’s almost like a reward, i enjoy the lightness and the playful aspect. i see three keys: tuck chin, engage abs enough to create/control momentum, and plant hands. wish i felt that straightforward about any other asana!

    fwiw my answer to your earlier query would have been opposite sanjaya’s, even tongue-in-cheek. you already know you can push yourself through. if you let go for a while, you can explore other dynamics.

  14. I agree with myst. I like the pose + it was one that never was hard for me.

    Now, halasana, that’s another story!

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