I typically dont like to share my fitnesss exploits on social media, but I thought I should write about my struggle to do the chakrasana, because in a way it encapsulates my engagement with yoga.
Chakrasana is not one of the easier asanas. That said, neither is it very difficult. You may not be able to do it in your first class, but most people can after a few weeks of yoga.
My teacher introduced us to chakrasana when I had been doing yoga for almost one year. She told us it was difficult and advised us to try the initial steps only first. For some strange reason, I developed a mental block against it and I could never do even the initial steps correctly. Generally, in the class, I was known as a student who could perform quite a few advanced asanas. In fact, I had already started doing some asanas, which few in the class could replicate. But this particular asana completely eluded me.
And my husband was able to do this perfectly easily and was the most advanced student in the class on this asana. We have a small competition between ourselves on yoga, and the fact that he could do this better irked me no end. But it only made me more and more hopeless at doing it.
I saw that even people who had newly joined were maintaining the pose which I was struggling to even comprehend.
This struggle really dented my ego very badly. I had been drawn to yoga as a form of exercise primarily because it was the one physical activity I didn’t suck at. In fact I was quite good at it. As a kid I was badly co-ordinated and poor in all sports. I could never do aerobics or any form of fast exercise because I could not keep in touch with the beat. .
I became more and more obsessed with it. I read up on chakrasana on the net. I looked at videos . And the more I did this, the more I started fearing even going to yoga. The familiar dislike for physical exercise, because I was bad at it came back.
Not all this struggle was counterproductive. I did gain some insight into why I had difficulty in this asana. It was a question of both strength and confidence. I lacked the confidence that my hands could propel up my body and hold me in the position. My husband and I had some discussion on it, and he suggested I do some hand presses to develop strength and confidence. I worked on it. He suggested that if I wring our clothes dry everyday, I would develop more strength in the hands and wrists. I took that advice also 🙂
Finally, after all this desperation, I think I acheived something productive out of it. After more than three months of struggle, after a couple of bad neck sprains (when I tried to use my head to propel my body up, rather than my hand), after a few weeks when the teacher supported me to hold the pose, I finally got it. The day when I first got it, the teacher was so busy with some new students, that she didnt even see it. But she looked at my face and said I think you got the chakrasana today, I can see the grin on your face.
In fact I was so elated that though I dislike putting up exercise updates on social media, I actually posted on facebook that I had acheived this pose.
As you can see from the photo, this is not really a tough asana, and people who have done gymnastics do this quite naturally as a back flip. In yoga, of course, you are taught to come to this pose from a prone position, rather than standing up. So the back bending is easily acheived but it is about the hands and legs propelling the body upward.
Today, my example is frequently cited in class, to beginners, and the teacher says dont get disheartened, because even a fairly senior student like her struggled for months together before attaining a pose. I even give tips to new students on some tricks to get the asana right. But I value this experience and this struggle the most because it taught me the fundamental of yoga, of learning to respect and understand your body, and gradually willing it to stretch itself. What is a complete asana for me today, may get more advanced a few weeks later. In that way, yoga remains a constant quest.