A few takes on the dreaded Kapotasana

This post is kind of like my Europa: It is not for me.

But for those of you who are in various stages of “mastering” Kapotasana, I thought a few different versions of the pose might be interesting, set back to back.

First, Maria Villella:


Next, Kino MacGregor:


Then, Heather Morton (it has had more than 60,000 views):


David Garrigues, who emphasizes “giving up”:


And finally, just for fun, our teacher, Jörgen Christiansson, adjusting in the pose. (Note: This is not his current shala.):


Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

13 thoughts on “A few takes on the dreaded Kapotasana”

  1. All the kapotasana ‘mystique’ seems a little misplaced. Most of Primary is more challenging that kapotasana for me, for example, and I know I’m not alone. Maybe everybody needs to appreciate that challenges in the practice are individual specific.

    Kapotasana isn’t even a gateway pose to Intermediate; Eka Pada is. Why do so many people spend so much time making such a fuss over a single posture? Or is the big K simply the first real roadblock in ashtanga for many? I have not seen anywhere near as big a fuss made over anything else in the practice.

    It’s only dreaded if you dread it. Maybe I should dread Supta Pada, Upavishta K, etc, etc.

    (My apologies, Steve, for giving a rant based off a single word in your title).

    1. LOL. You don’t have to apologize to me. I don’t dread Kapo. I dread Surya A. I just hear about all the dread, and yes, see it as people around me build it up into something so daunting. I assume there’s a reason for that… but I don’t know. Probably never will!

      You make a good point, too. The poses are just poses — any dread or fear or dismissal or ease comes from us and what we put on it.


  2. Actually I have to agree with Vanilla. It is only dreaded as the mindstuff if pretty powerful here. Even when I hear the teachers feet coming to adjust I think that I hold my breath. Bad Lady! When I saw the title here I was not so keen on clicking in to read it but my curiosity overcame me. Focusing on practice breath and bandhas and being focused helps and when you get to it some days it’s really cool otherdays it is what it is. Same as all the asanas I think when it really comes down to it. Our mind gives it the power, that’s all. When it comes to difficulty on the mat and off it’s all about learning to let go.

    1. i definitely agree with what you both are saying, but whatever the reason is: Kapo is dreaded, right? Off the mat, we all can agree it shouldn’t be, but on the mat it seems a different thing. (Just as off that mat there are things we dread that we shouldn’t. Gah! I hate how seamlessly this all works!)


  3. I don’t dread Kapotasana. I look forward to it on the rare occasions when I get to practice it in a led class, because I haven’t been given any poses in Intermediate.

  4. Maybe someone should state the obvious, that there is no technique of breathing, bandhas or surrender that will instantly overcome tight quadriceps, psoas, intercostals, latissimus dorsii etc. There are plenty yogis out there who have ruptured their disks by disregarding this fact.

    With that said… sure, dread is just another vritti to work through.

  5. When I first started working with kapo it felt like if I moved any deeper into it my body might snap in half. I also felt lightheaded and stiff coming out of it. I definitely dreaded it for quite a while, but slowly it’s becoming not such a big deal, and some days it’s almost borderline enjoyable. It helps me to really engage my legs, press through my shins and stay lifted. And a skillful assist from a teacher is priceless. I have really tight shoulders, but my backbend is pretty deep, and my hip flexors and quads are quite open. On a good day I can touch my feet but I haven’t been able (yet) to get my elbows down. Actually, that pull in the shoulders is the hardest part for me. Anyone have any advice for that?

  6. In my humble opinion, kapotasana IS deserving of “fuss”. I’m not sure what poses in second have been labeled “gateway” but in my mind, kapotasana IS second. The nadi cleansing which leads to that elated feeling post practice comes, in VERY large part, through this pose.

    After doing kapotasana for the first time I came quite close to a panic attack. It took me a while to regain my composure. A lot has changed since then but I’m still at a place where I’m aware of it looming on the horizon as I begin a second series practice.

  7. When it is THERE for you 5 days a week, it becomes a different animal. Not so much *dreaded*, but given its due respect. It’s not going away and neither am I, so.

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