Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ruminating on Pasasana

So I've been thinking about Pasasana. (Haha. And then? What else would I have been doing?)

Just based on people's comments and what I've observed in the physical shala (as opposed to the cyber shala)... It seems like this is a pose that people need a bit of assistance in (me included, OF COURSE!)

Is this a case of an "over-assisted" pose? ...Kinda sorta almost like Uttitha Hasta Pandangusthasana... y'know... sometimes you just need to be left alone to figure out how to work the pose on your own but all too often you get an assist with it, then come to rely on the assistance and then it takes you longer to "get" it on your own. To be honest, my UHP became WAAAAAY improved during Sharath's workshop coz for 2 weeks I had zero assistance with it and had to work on it on my own.

So then... how would one determine when you "get" Pasasana to a satisfactory level before you're moved on? I mean, of course it depends on when the teacher feels you're ready to move on, but it seems like some people who are waaaaaaay into the rest of the intermediate series are still getting an assist with Pasasana, the first pose, without their heels on the ground too. But I don't know if they're always getting this assist or only occasionally (you see, I'm not ALWAYS rubber-necking and keeping tabs on what everyone else is doing!)

So how do you determine this? Haha, I'm not looking to move onto Krounchasana already, I'm just curious what else is supposed to be going on in the pose that I may not be aware of.

The other Pasasana question is - Why do you start with the left side first and not the right? Every other pose in the Primary series starts with right side first coz apparently that's how it should flow energetically. So... what's going on here? Anybody?

I checked David Swenson's manual and he starts it on the Right side first (bring left elbow over to outer edge of right knee... that sounds like a right twist first). But maybe his book was also written a while ago.

And then I realized that I now have to buy more books on the Intermediate series coz the Swenson manual is the only book I've got with an Intermediate reference! (Yay for Gregor Maehle's new book! Amazon, here I come!) I'm happy to take more book recommendations too for other references for the Intermediate series.

In the meantime, this is why you Advanced series people are the new cool kids. Here's a great site with more Advanced cool kids, and you can add your advanced asana pictures to the collection too.

Kiss my ass-ana! ONE HAND!


  1. Firstly, let me just say, there are no "cool kids". We are all cool kids!

    OK, pasansana. I was moved to Krounchasana when I could balance and make the bind on my own. Heels on the floor unassisted is not a requirement, even in a Sharath Led Intermediate class. I have been doing pasasana for almost six years and my heels are still about an inch off the floor, but I can bind properly and have worked out how to balance there. I get an adjustment maybe 50% of the time, and it's just a "nice to have" sometimes, not a requirement.

    I think this pose is a lot different from UHP. I do believe that pose is over-assisted. At Dena's school, no one gets help with it! You soon learn to balance and do it yourself. As for Pasasana, some people cannot bind at all unless assisted, let alone balance on their tippie toes! How and when they get moved on is up to the individual teacher. If someone has physical limitations, I reckon most teachers feel it's too cruel to leave them there for months!

    Anyway, that's just my 2c. I'm sure others will have theirs too!

  2. AHA! Perfect advice. Thank you. I was a little flummoxed today coz I bound the pose on my own, and was trying to get my heels flat after that but my balance got completely screwed up because of it. And then teacher came over to assist me so that was the end of my "figuring it out" on my own today.

    So maybe what I should be doing is binding the pose, then holding that balance there for the 5 counts even if I'm on my tippy-toes. Just work on that balance first before I even attempt to get my heels flat. This makes sense, to break it down like this first. Too many things going on otherwise that my body & brain can't handle! THANK YOU!

  3. You are welcome!

    You've got the right idea, too. Balancing first is key. Without it you cannot do the pose on your own. Do what it takes to balance there. Then, once you got that, you gradually work your heels to the floor. As others have said, there is a lot more to it than just achilles/calf/foot flexibility. My heels started WAY up off the floor, and my teacher would come over and call me Twinkle Toes. Gradually they are finding the floor. They may never touch, but what the heck.

    Sounds like you are pretty close nevertheless.

  4. What Anne said ; for this one, I think it's a whole lot more holistic than heels down, move on. My heels will probably never go down, but it didn't take long to figure out the balance and bind, so I was moved on fairly promptly. I also remember being surprised at how much core strength it took to keep stable, but thought that was just because I was balancing on my toes. It was one of those poses where I was almost always adjusted, too, but I never complained, cause I got into it so much deeper with the assist (I only get the wrist bind with help). For some reason, my teacher always insisted on me putting heels down before binding (which pissed me off, I might add); I still don't know what that was about.

    Y'know what? I've never had an assist in UHP. Not once! Is that because my teacher was one of Dena's proteges? Hang on, I've seen other people getting that adjustment. It's one I always wanted. Hmph!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. sorry for the deleted comment...

    The comments are great (and hilarious).

    Sounds like you are very close. Now that you've given yourself away as a squatter, you won't get out of that expectation!

    I wonder if it's a pose where there are stages of assistance. I "got" it- bound, heels on ground, etc, but I get cranked in it every now and then and it's intense. Even when you get it and move on, you'll probably get the crank-twist every once in awhile!

    By the way, you must be my Chinese sister because we use so much of the same slang and appreciate the same absurdities! (jibber jabber)

    AND- I LOVE looking at the site you mentioned, there's a playfulness about it that's inspiring. I love the girl on the mat outside- she's seriously my asana hero. One of them.

  7. HAHA Liz! I'm a squatter, but not a squatter-twister-binder. That's a triple-whammy! At the moment, I can only do any of the 2 out of the 3, but not all 3 at the same time. Even squatting geniuses need time to pick up a new technique! :p

    And yes, I'm pretty sure we're soul-sistas (or maybe that should be sistazzzz). I heart your moustache bags, all of them, and I've got my eye on your Mr. T one, the one with the fuzzy mowhawk. Farkin AWESOMENESS. Also... a little birdie sent me this link today and I was in stitches... you guys make a terrific pair. I'm pretty sure if I lived in your part of the world, we would be friends. Yes, based on just this link alone. ;p

  8. oh my god...
    That link is so funny- I mean, of course I know about it... don't think I didn't have a big part in it (someone had to take the photos!), but it's no longer on his site... it's just "stuck" in cyberspace forever! My man, in pink goggles! ha ha ha!!! People all over the world doing an image search for Marichyasana D will see this joke for yoga dorks!

    We get in a lot of trouble together. A couple weeks ago he made me laugh so hard I strained my throat and had to suck on cough drops for a couple days.

    (ps: I can get you a deal on the Drishti Locator goggles if you need them)

  9. One handed handstands, what the hecks the point.....Oooo one handed Mayurasana, i take it back, Cooool. I love the Absolute Ashtanga site, such a great atmosphere coming out of those pages. love how the pictures are of loads of different people doing 3rd and 4th and not just one Superashtangi.

    Pasasana, never had an adjust or assist, I really do suspect you can come to rely on them. I used a towel under the heels at first then did it on balls of feet, which probably improved my balance and then managed to do it flat footed using my forearm as a brace to stay stable while I bound and walked my fingers up to the wrist.
    I thought I posted on it but seems not, though I put one on Youtube a while back that only binds at the fingers
    I try and get my right shoulder say, way down to the left knee and then when the arm comes all the way around past the outside of the right leg I squeeze the forearm in against the leg and press the leg out against the forearm, that counter force gives me the stability I need to get into the bind.
    That works for me anyway, but I suspect this is one of those postures in particular, where everyone has to find their own way that works for them

  10. Confession: as a newbie ashtangi I recognised pasasana as the first pose of intermediate and thought it looked really easy...thank you for making me realise that it's not!! Also the girl I saw doing it probably made it look a bit effortless too. I totally agree on UHP being over-assisted, having moved to my new shala I've only had the assist on 2 out of 4 visits (vs every visit at previous place) which I think is about the right ratio. I don't like the feeling that grows when you reach an asana and hesitate or wait for the teacher before you even begin it...can't comment on pasasana itself though because I probably won't ever even finish primary!!

  11. hi skippetty - i have a "high heels" pashasana! i am doubtful they'll ever touch the floor but i had good luck the other day rolling up my mat a bit and shoving it under there. it gave me the stability to take the bind a bit deeper...i figure i will alternate practices balancing to stretch the heels and propping to deepen the twist (propping with the mat might not be ok in your shala though, in mine it's ok) and eventually it will all get there.

    I seldom get the assist but when i do it's heels on the floor first and it drives me crazy too (hi lew)!

    i prefer to do UHP on my own, i don't love the assist...balance is a fragile thing!

    Sorry, long comment!

  12. Hey Grimm, the way you describe sounds kinda similar to the way I get into it too (it's using a similar technique employed in Mari D. No wonder my Teacher insists on this bind first!)

    Mel - yeah, it looks really easy to me too! And probably isn't as hard as oh... say... Karandavasana (hehe) but it still has its challenges. Every pose does! I'm pretty sure my one side being more open than the other has to do with my pelvic rotation, which adds on even more to "my stuff" to deal with in this pose.

    KMB - I used to practice this with a mat rolled under heels as well, which is why the balance issue was never an issue coz I conveniently pushed it aside! HAHA! With this teacher, I wouldn't dare to attempt rolling the mat under heels. Which is probably why the balance factor has been amplified in my case. I will wear my imaginary stilletos like you and see how I go. :)

  13. Ah, pasasana, we were bound together by misery for a couple of years, now I can finally wrist bind on my own. Just beginning to get a nice twist sometimes though, I WISH I would get cranked in it! I could always squat with heels down, but had to get a LOT stronger to balance in the twist, and binding is strongly correlated to my weight and recent food behaviour....

    I also believe in alternating approaches, same with UHP, getting assisted half the time seems about right.

    Here's the good news: whoever made up this series had some compassion and put in krounchasana next, the most blissful, delicious relief for the tops of the feet. Maybe that's why compassionate teachers move the toe-balancers on :)

    I don't think it will take you long, Skippetty :)

  14. Thanks Susan! I also believe in the twists/binds & food correlation, especially after seeing the difference when I was on that cleanse! This weekend, I have now officially over-eaten, had too much coffee, sugar & carbs... and yes, I also skipped this morning's practice. Bad lady! So let's see how I go tomorrow morning. ;p

  15. And still no answer to why it starts on the left first... sigh....


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