Dreaming about my heels

Last night I dreamt I was in urdhva dhanurasana and walked my hands in until I touched my feet. It was nice. The end.


Okay, it’s… um, 3.5 years into practice and I am losing the inclination to pine for poses. Is this why people quit around kapotasana? Because the pining, driven feeling diminishes and it’s confusing and you figure it means you’ve lost interest?

Luckily, I’ve had lots of practice carrying on with projects regardless my immediate feelings about them. The project of raising My Gift, certainly. I always loved her, but the day-to-day (and minute-by-minute!) requirements and logistics and ups and downs, etc., etc., etc., taught me to carry on regardless whether it seemed possible to carry on. [Moment of single-Mom self-pity. Okay, that’s done!]

Writing, same deal. I focused on it as a daily practice (i.e., was madly driven) for a good 10 years. Pined to publish. Published. Was happy. Published more. Was happy some more. Realized I was just going to keep writing, regardless publishing or happiness. All my worries, all my ups and downs over progress and publishing? Uh, yeah, didn’t make anything happen or not happen any more quickly or slowly.

It’s all about the means, not the end. I’ve learned that lesson over and over in a variety of situations. Good karma, I think — it’s a very pleasant, freeing lesson.

Alrighty, so I keep practicing. And I’ll use the vow I used for writing and zen practice: In 20 years, I’ll take a moment to consider whether it was worth it.

That seems reasonable.


I’ve not practiced since Sunday. Have a pretty awful cold. Used the usual gym rat rule for exercising while sick: once it goes lower than your throat or gives you a fever, you knock off (i.e., okay to practice with head cold or headache or sore throat, but not with a chest cold or cough).

Woke this morning and lay in bed, feeling like a log. My brain has been cut off from my body! LOL! Seriously, that’s what it feels like. Like my body is opaque to my mind. Like on “Heroes” when the Haitian is around and the mind readers can’t read other people’s minds.

Yeah, I’ve been watching “Heroes” too much.


One hilarious thought when I signed up for Matthew Sweeney’s workshop in July. “What if I’m still not dropping back?” (said in horrified tone). Because, you know, he’s been travelling the world teaching hundreds and hundreds of people, and in July he’s gonna travel to Minnesota and single me out to say, “Really, Karen? You still haven’t figured this out?”



21 Responses

  1. Hi Karen, you are/were a writer? What have you published? Is there any online link for your writings? I would like to see it.

  2. i like the comparison to parenting. there were many times when i called my mother and said i am sending Molly to you! send her to Emma Willard (private girls school where they live). there have been many mornings when i have thought that getting up at 3:30 would kill me and threatened to quit.
    but it is not pose lust that has kept me going. it is the days when everything feels great and i don’t want anything else. which is most days ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Beautiful poem – thanks for sharing.!

  4. Haha, yes I’m sure Matthew Sweeney couldn’t care less! That said, I’m sure you’ll drop back eventually. Are you sure you can’t do it now? Can the cop do assisted dropbacks with you?

    Hey, can you tell me something? What is the “industry standard” for people getting poses beyond kapo? Is it taking the heels?

    I don’t take mine without a big cranky assist, and then barely. (!)

    MS will be at my shala in May. Before that Petri R., then Mark Darby (but he is totally incoherent, I’ve taken a class from him before). Then after MS, Danny Paradise.

    Then there’s someone coming called Andrew Eppler, ever heard of him?

  5. PS, feel better soon…

    I had that last week but got over it quickly.

  6. โ€œLiving With Your Eyesโ€ is so beautiful.



    โ€œa tree of knowledge with flaming branches
    you extinguish with bare hands and bare feetโ€

    quite true

  7. “pose lust”- that’s hilarious.
    I don’t think I suffer from that either. It all feels so hard, I can’t imagine ever thinking, “Okay, I GOT this, time to move on!”. I’ve never really understood people who strive for more, more, more. If this practice is to be spread out over a life time, then I don’t want it to be too hard for too long!

    JS- “industry standard” cracked me up. I’m curious to see what Karen writes. I think it depends on the teacher. Mine goes on a case-by-case basis. Some people are never going to get their heels (ex: Tim Miller? ever?)- so why have some absurd standard that’s supposed to fit everyone? But then, if my teacher thinks it’s possible for a person, you better believe he makes you do it. So frustrating…

    Karen, I really enjoyed this entry, it was funny and sweet and I think we all relate to “will I be good enough for the rock star teacher!?”- what I would guess he pays more attention to is breath more than any contorting or back dropping.

  8. “What is the ‘industry standard’ for people getting poses beyond kapo? Is it taking the heels?”

    I’m not the person to ask about industry standards, but I did ask that same question here once, and people responded. I think Vanessa had some insight. If I recall, the answer was that people got moved on once their instructor could adjust them into kapotasana to their toes routinely.

    Anyone want to weigh in with better info?

  9. Oh, and about the breath: when I practiced with MS last summer, I asked if I should go past primary — his primary criterion was whether I could do the intermediate portion on the breath. And he volunteered to watch. LOL! As if staying on the breath during intermediate backbends isn’t tough enough, I had MS watching to validate. Performance anxiety! I was chanting “Don’t freak out! Don’t freak out! DON’T freak out!” to myself the whole time. LOL!

  10. It seems that in my shala people get moved past Kapo when the teacher can regularly take their hands to their heels, but I wouldn’t hold this to be Divine Word….I really think it depends on the individual. Having said that, the people I know who stayed there until they could get their heels by themselves seem to have a much more peaceful relationship with this pose now than those who moved past it in the toe stage. But wouldn’t this be the case for everything really?

  11. I hope Joy doesn’t rat you out to MS when he’s in France…

    ‘”Hey Matthew, you didn’t hear this from me but Karen’s not dropping back yet. I hope she works extra hard between now and July…”

  12. heehee!

    I’m only getting to heels with an assist, but I can get a bit beyond the balls of my feet on my own. The rest of 2nd is feeling good to me.

    Sometimes Teach and I do our led primary to a Sharath CD, and it’s so rapid… no time for futzing around at all. When I get out of practice doing all those pick-ups and jumpbacks every day (like you do when practicing full second), a rapid-fire Friday feels like hard work day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’m saving your poems for this weekend. I’m going to have them with my coffee on Saturday morning.

  13. Easy on the poetry, Joy. My brother offered my very favorite critique of my work: “You know, Karen, you DO go ON.” LOL!

    Vanessa, wise words on the waiting it out. I guess this is where teachers judge how a particular person will respond to being held back or given more. It’s pretty fascinating, really — I’d love to see a documentary where all the big names sit down and discuss just this sort of thing. Perhaps Owl can turn it into a scholarly project. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Now I’m wondering if it was Susananda who said regular adjustment to the toes and then move on… Either way, I suppose it’s a small quibble. You know, unless you’re actually doing it…

    And Joy, not a word to Matthew!

  14. Hmmmm…. it does suggest some fascinating negotiations of relationships and method. The nuts and bolts of transmission.

    I love this whole post, esp paragraph 5.

    Have not read your poems in several months so will join Joy remotely on Saturday morning.

  15. Great poem! I see you have a book or two as well. I’ll have to try to get one. You can find my book on Amazon. It’s called Mistaken for Song. I didn’t know there was another ashtangi poet around. Cool!

    Tara Bray

  16. Woohoo! Ashtangi poets! I’ll check out your book, Tara. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Mine are: “Her Angel,” “Venus Return,” and “Mysterious Peripheries.”

    Any other Ashtangi writers who want to talk about their books out there? I’d love to make a reading list of Ashtangi writers!

  17. Hey Karen, I will check our yours too! Super!

    Wonder if there are any other Ashtangi writers? That would be a cool list!

  18. Deciduous meat… bacon trees.

    Did you just write this?

    Feels like it could be so recent.

  19. No! Wrote it years ago!

    The associative mind is astonishing.

    Siddhi? Holographic universe?

  20. Astralplane?

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