Thursday, 11 August 2011

4 & 5 Diamond postures, Usthrasana and Kapotasana ( feet together )

I mentioned in the dropping back post a couple of days ago that in Ramaswami's book the feet are, perhaps surprisingly ( for me at least coming from ashtanga) together. This adds quite a degree of challenge as you have a less stable base to work from.

I try to keep the three locks/bhandas, (Mula -root, uddiyana-belly and jalendhara-throat ) engaged throughout my practice, in some poses more engaged than others. Uddiyana bandha, drawing in the belly, is especially useful for backbends, seems to help protect the back and ground you somehow, makes you a little more stable.

Recently, somebody mentioned a tip from a workshop where they were told to imagine they had a pea beneath their belly that they were trying not to squish as they were laying in the Salabhasana's (trying to find the source of this anyone remember?). great tip, it really helps but what about standing backbends and kapo, here's my variation.....

This only works if your belly button is an innie, sorry outie's your backbends are just going to have to suffer or perhaps you can come up with your own version in which case please let me know.

The yogi and the pea
So the idea is that you imagine your holding a pea inside your belly button. Now you want to grip that pea so suck your belly in and up, grip the pea and draw it back nice and safe, now keep that engaged like that through your drop back's, kapo's and what have you.

In the video below I'm whizzing through the Bow sequence and part of the meditative sequence. The idea here, as with the previous Leg behind head post, is to show how the postures of the sequences build upon each other preparing you for the more challenging poses.

I'd already done my bow sequence practice this morning, here I'm going in and out of each pose on the breath but earlier, of course, I was repeating the postures three times and or staying in the pose for a number of long, slow breaths.

Key to ushtrasana and kapotasana are getting the hips as far forward as possible, lifting up out of the hips as we do every day in tadasana. There's a tendency to collapse the hips backwards as we go over but all the way keep thinking "hips forward, hips forward...". Mine collapse here because this is my first time doing kapo with my feet and knees together. You may find it easier to work toward the feet together version by practicing with your feet and knees apart.

Look inside

The full kapotasana doesn't show up in Ramaswami's Complete book of vinyasa yoga but it's there in his earlier book ( and one of THE best books on yoga I've come across) Yoga for the three stages of life.


  1. Very well!!

    It is funny, in salabasana (p.141) you are closing the other fist, maybe it was more natural for you?!

  2. It seems a little funny to me that when you are doing the meditative sequence those backbends are just kind of thrown at you. If you are doing only the sequence the prep you get are the counterpose to vajrasana and the first usthrasana. That is kind of intense, in itself.

  3. Is that right K, sure I've got all kinds of bad habits, nice going back to the book again though, finding all kinds of things, like this feet together detail.

  4. Totally agree Chris, I've always done the meditative sequence after Bow but that means I end up cutting it a little short. On holiday the other week I did it as a stand alone for the first time in ages, enjoyed working through it but even then I did it after drop back work in tadasana sequence so had some prep at least.

  5. Grimmly, I finally got to trying the drop back and kapotasana with the knees together and the right breathing..yeah, I have definitely been doing the breathing "wrong." I put wrong in quotation mark because for both of these poses I always enter them on the exhale and this is kind of wrong but in The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga, Ramaswami says (and as K pointed out in the post on the drop back)it is fine to do some of the more vigorous backbends on a exhale. I seem to enter the backbends with an exhale but I also normally leave it on the exhale. I also cannot drop back with the feet together (for some reason I can't convince me knees to be apart or to bend enough).

  6. Tricky isn't it. i always drop back on the exhale, i try and make it long and slow, slowing the breath as I go over seems to slow the drop and give it a little more control. I've spent a lot of time on drop backs so have quite a bit of control, can pretty much place my hands on the mat, think that control helps when trying it with the feet together. Amused to think how wide apart I used to have them, right on the edge of the mat and turned outwards ; )