My Life in Pictures

Soundtrack: Brian Eno/Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks

Kapo Machine (Next step is to shorten the ropes a bit so my thighs are kept more perpendicular to the floor…)

UD (Slightly better light than the last photo.)


Rope Hangback (Ahhhhh, this feels great in the hip flexors! And look! You can see Tyler!)


“The Rack” (Easily the most painful thing I do all day, even though you can’t see it on the outside… All I’m doing is pushing my arms straight, and I have no idea why that is so difficult or painful.)


15 Responses

  1. That is a fantastic Kapo machine!! What are the ropes attached to?

  2. my first though about the kapo machine was youch! but then i realized that you are stabilizing the pelvic bones the same way david does when he gives his awesome adjustment! it is kind of a genius set up!
    and having seen your backbend in realy life, i never would have guessed it was something you have struggled with. that last picture really says it all. you have done great work!

  3. I really, really really like the Kapo machine. BUT (sorry, there is a but!) when Noah was teaching at AYL, he told me off very sternly for taking my arms out to the side and then rotating them to grab my feet. He said I could give myself a really nasty shoulder injury, and from there on forced me to go back with prayer hands and then extend the arms.

    I still do it “my” way from time to time and so far, no dangling arm, but given that you mentioned an old rotator cuff injury I thought I’d bring this up. Not to scare you! Only to ask if you can maybe bring the arms up and over – will the ropes give so much?

  4. Pics on the next post, Nicky. Ropes are attached to the wall.

    Yes, Tova, the most stable part of the set-up is the hips. Which makes Vanessa’s warning sensible — the shoulders are the weak link. I will try the prayer hands on Tuesday, V. I am pretty sure the bands won’t stretch enough to do the up-and-over, but I’ll check it out. There is a little pause before I turn my shoulders out when I use this — and it’s exactly because of what you say: it’s the most potentially injurious part of the whole set-up.

  5. I like the rack. Am going to have to try that myself. I can see how your thoracic spine is actually curving — I want mine to do that!!

  6. If you’re looking for a rack, here’s where you can get one:

    They’re actually located here in the valley. I went over to pick mine up in person — the guy who makes them is really nice. Iyengar folk, him and his wife.

    They call it a “barrel,” but I think as Ashtangis, we can rename it “the rack.” šŸ™‚

  7. The rack!
    I love a juicy, photo-heavy blog post, thanks! I totally know what you mean about that ball thing- I feel a lot of stress when I’m in that position too. It’s getting much better. I used to have pain just standing up with my shoulders pulled back. What a hunchback I must have been!

    I do Ushtrasana twice in my practice- the first one is just to get over the panic feeling, the second is to actually open up. I also lift up and up through the chest before bending very far back in Kapo- trying to focus on opening the front instead of crunching my lower back.

    I would never survive a led 2nd series class.

  8. Great pics and videos thanks for posting these. Remember you mentioning the machines but couldn’t picture how you had them set up. Especially like the hang back ropes and the Kapo machine, need to keep my thighs/hips up more. Sadly iIrent so can’t go drilling holes in my wall. Found the bands for pulling the arms back in kapo interesting, are they making much a difference? Find my arms seem to lock about the same place and can’t figure out why and if there’s a way of getting more extention (lifting shoulders before taking them back perhaps?)or is that it and we just need to deepen the back bend. So are the bands to pull the arms back more or to help you deepen the back bend, perhaps a bit of both?

  9. wow, crazy!

  10. Liz, I was always appalled in zazen — my shoulders would feel like they wanted to hunch and fold up and die after a few hours of sitting. Other people would be crying about their knees, but I always just was in pain through my shoulders — pulling them back hurt, keeping them straight hurt, hunching them in hurt. Sheesh.

    I need to pay more attention to shoulders in ustrasana. I always get all happy just pressing into the hip flexors, which is a feeling I love — I need to develop more of a taste for the stretchy shoulder feeling…

    Grimmly, I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m operating under the premise that I need to deepen the backbend AND open up the shoulders/chest. My arms lock, too — thanks to weightlifting and rock climbing, I believe. They are opening up now, finally, but not easily. The bands are to pull the arms back (which I believe I need more than I need more backbend at this point), but they do, as a side benefit, also intensify the backbend.

    ebean, nice to see you!

  11. Grimmly, what you need to do is not drop the head. Once the head is on the floor, the game is practically over for the arms.

  12. Nice!! Here are my thoughts:

    Pic 1 – that machine is awesome, though I agree with V about the shoulder thing. Also it would be nice to have the cop behind you to push your elbows down and in. And yes, definitely shortten the rope and get your hips forward now!

    Pic 2 – I love this pic, it’s just dreamy. The warm colours, sunlight streaming through vaguely psychelic curtains, the glow under your mid-back and shininess of the wall. And the peaceful feeling.

    Pic 3 – I would love to have a set-up like that.

    Pic 4 – That looks great too. I know exactly what you mean about the straight arms being the hardest – that’ll help you bigtime in kapo B.

  13. I liked Tyler’s sympathetic whining in the last video! And Kapo machine rocks. I am now eying the walls of the apartment I rent and scratching my head. Need to have something like that! šŸ™‚

  14. I was going to say I think Tyler is empathizing with you as well… Youch! I’m going to try your rack idea next to the wall because I find straightening my arms to be painful sometimes. Early in the morning when I’ve only practiced 1st series, my shoulders don’t want to open up. It’s another story after I’ve coaxed everything open with ustrasana, etc.

    I want your kapo machine so bad! Genius.

  15. I can imagine some delicious stretching on that rack, actually. I can’t get enough of extending my arms overhead.

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