Earlier tonight I read an entry on this very blog from September 2007, where I was studying my slow progress of hands-toward-feet in Kapotasana. The pose was almost EXACTLY where it still is.
I hadn't, it's true, been taken to my feet six times, as I have since then, but come on now, that's FOURTEEN MONTHS ago.
In the Saturday breakout vinyasa classes, I notice that my backbending focus has given me more depth in numerous poses:
in standing splits, the raised leg is CLEARLY higher and straighter than it used to be.
in seated splits, the front thighs give more and the pose calls for more from the hamstrings. It too, deepens.
in Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (pigeon lunge, bring back foot toward head), my left foot is creeping quite dangerously close to my head. I can't do the overhead reach yet, but I can certainly think about it. This is clear, physically measurable progress.
In Kapotasana itself, particularly when I practice it at 64 degrees, no change.
Perhaps I need to revisit the late-night Monday "Intro to Intermediate" which, due to school, I've only been able to attend about four times all semester. It comes with human energy, warmth, and instruction. Perhaps there I will see where my Kapo REALLY is.
One really never has a "real" asana practice. That's a deception. Sure, I can fairly regularly pull every pose of Primary, but what about the days I can't balance? Why shouldn't that be my "real" practice? What would it mean if it were?
Why do I even care if I ever take my feet in that backbend? (because you have numerous voices, online and off, and a tradition, which says that heels is the official watermark on that pose, and only at that point, do you move on--YEAH BUT what about the fact that my two post-SF mysore room experiences let me run up to Kapo EVEN THOUGH those teachers KNEW by my own admission that I didn't really drop back? How do you explain THAT?)
Is that kind of fire-ants-in-the-head really necessary? Am I really going to have that discussion again?
I have 30, maybe as many as 35, but not more than that, days of Mysore-room experience. My Ashtanga practice is 4 years and 4 months old: that's SIXTEEN HUNDRED days. 1600/30.
My partner not long ago, having to put up with this self-investigation, said:
"Maybe that's as far as your body ACTUALLY GOES in that pose."
That's possible. I had multiple reactions:
1) Nah, I don't want to give up the fight yet.
2) Man, that'd be refreshing.
In a way, I want regular exposure to a teacher so that I can either be put in that pose to my maximum ability (whatever that is) or else have it said by an authority that my maximum ability is as far as it currently is. Either I do more pose or I do enough pose. Really, all I want to know is which one it is.
When I try to teach myself Kapotasana, which is a ridiculous proposition, I rely on advice given to me by people who can do it. For obvious reasons, I trust people who've adjusted me in it more than people who haven't.
No visible progress is coming in it, although as I've said, visible progress is happening in a bunch of OTHER postures. I'm going to keep doing it, progress or not, because that's what you do. You walk face into the wall until the day when a passage mysteriously and for no reason, opens before you. That's how it is.