We live in a world where a scan of headlines (in the New York Times, no less) — UFO’s! Russian Probes! Omarosa! Fires! Hurricanes! Pharmaceutical murders — makes me ask, like my daughter about our Elf on the shelf: Is this real? A climate where the song, “It’s raining men” has a new, funny — yet not — meaning in light of the past month’s reckoning, from Weinstein down to “et tu” Matt Lauer. Did I mention the UFO’s?
It seems apt then, that in this coo coo for Cocoa Puffs world, I am stuck on the coo coo for Cocoa Puffs posture–
I.e., Kukkutasana. CooCoo-tasana. Tripod headstand, legs into lotus, lower them knees down into armpits, lift head up, straighten arms. The position is an apt mini representation of the current world I find myself in, i.e., twisted, tied up in knots, upside-down and balanced quite precariously. It’s the first big arm balance in third series, after, you know, a bunch of side plank type maneuvers and putting your leg behind your head about a gazillion times. Oh, but there’s more.
In ashtanga, the prize for doing postures is, ahem, more postures.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBGpRLjNnzM
I made the mistake of looking ahead in Lino’s book, which rudely revealed pages and pages of arm balances after this coocoo one, many entered into from headstand. I confess that in a moment of indulgent narcissistic self-loathing, it seemed obvious that the third series had, in fact, been invented to fuck with me. Indeed, we may as well rename it:
“ALL THE POSTURES JEAN MARIE CANNOT FUCKING DO FOR HER LIFE MAN WE CAN’T WAIT TO SEE HOW MUCH SHE ROYALLY SUCKS AT THIS AND GUESS WHAT IT’S LIKE PAGES TILL YOU EVEN SEE ANOTHER BACKBEND (AND EVEN THAT POSE COMES FROM A HEADSTAND DROP OVER WHICH WE KNOW SHE WILL FUCKING HATE ‘CAUSE SHE IS SUCH A WIMP!)” (Insert Dr. Evil-type villainous laugh here.)
Coo Coo-Tasana is the first time I’ve been stuck in over three years. By stuck I mean I’ve been working on this pose for almost three months and: Failure to launch. I’ve made small and by that I mean mostly microscopic movements closer to it; getting myself more tightly folded up, my knees closer to my armpits, and…. NADA.
Did I call it coo-coo? Well the funny thing is, everyone and their mother can do it. Seriously, I bet everyone in the Mysore room I attend could do this, down to the people still sloughing through primary. They can do it. So can their grandparents and kids and pet hamsters. Indeed my habitual Instagram scroll reveals no fewer than way too many people doing it, people who are “just playing with this posture” as it is “not in their practice” and their attempts– which amount to an actual doing of the pose — are “pretty ok for a first try I guess #justplaying” (insert cute emojis).
Their posts stalk me, like the endless stream of ads in my feed featuring bras for busty women.
It’s cruel, man.
Teacher friends helpfully share tips like “just get your knees closer to your armpits.” You may as well say, Jean Marie, it’s easy, all you have to do is sing like Jennifer Hudson or speak fluent Chinese or grow a go-go-gadget core! I understand what you want me to do. Now you understand:
I WOULD IF I COULD!
Forgive the all caps; I use them in jest, not in whining. The coo-coo thing is that I’m a little worried because I don’t want to be stuck. I’m afraid of three months turning into three or 300 years. Last time I was stuck for over a year it was karandavasana, and when I look back, I see that part of the stuckiness wasn’t just the difficulty– it was how I was going about it. I don’t want to make the same mistakes again, mistakes that I am already making. Just look at my tic-tocs. Or shall i say “tics?” because I have yet to jump back over by myself. It scares me. I’m scared I will land on my jugular and die in my own home while a video is running and then my stupid death will get replayed like the “jerry or the day” until people realize that I never actually get up and then they will remove the video due to its grisly, disturbing content.
i have a tendency to catastrophize.
Let me back up and get a grip: It is easy to forget, amidst the crazy, what good is actually happening.
Kukkutasana reveals all the work I’ve managed to avoid, not out of laziness, but fear and a lack of attention. Indeed, one ashtanga friend told me lifting up was just like in a pose in primary called bhujapidasana. I investigated on my mat and found out that I had never properly lifted into that pose before, either. So what do I have to show for the last three months, besides a “failure to launch? A stronger bakasana, lighter lifts off the floor in my transitions (especially in third series, thank you Eddie Stern), standing up tall with one leg behind my head. Oh, and off the mat? I’m putting myself out there and getting rejected, a perfectionist embracing the vast world of suckage.
Maybe we are not stuck at all, anywhere. Maybe progress is not linear. Perhaps progress wears a veil and shows its face in drips and drops and sprinkled love crumbs and sweat streaks along the way over the river and through the woods of my increasingly long practice. This gives me a little hope. Forget about Kukkutasana–
I mean hope for the world.