The Metaphorical Meaning Between Kakasana and Life

Taking flight are words in every yogi’s dreams, hopes and aspirations. The sense of true courage, strength, balance and concentration makes for the perfect union example in mind, body and soul of our yoga practice ever so present with the with the popular crow pose. This significant arm balance and usually the first to take flight for most yogis was the catalyst to my own practice with arm balances and inversions which in conjuction allowed me to take off in life as well.

Look Forward, Stay Strong and Fly is a personal mantra of mine I apply in all things both mentally and physically in life. This mantra came to me not naturally but after many falls and practices with my crow pose. Seeing the asana for the first was not only impressive but downright absurd and internally frustrating. It looks easy enough… balance the knees on the triceps and lift your feet off the mat – how hard could it be?! 6 months of face planting is exactly how hard it would be. Never has fear become so present when you feel real internal and physical struggle when attempting crow pose. Realising your lack of strength and bravery forces you to look deep within and be humbled by the practice that over rides your overconfident assumptions. It was with this asana I was forced to realise that I’m not as “good” in yoga than I thought I was. Sure I was quite flexible and strong at 2 months in but then did I come to terms with the fact that I’ve so much more to learn and learn was what I did.

First was the fear. I’m a well known hermit and creature of habit, I’m superstitious, a perfectionist and I downright hate failing. The fear of falling is my fear of failing. Falling is the admittance of failure. This closed confined mindset prevented me from sending my weight forward for longer than ever and coincidentally my career as a travel designer had slowed down too.

Second was the strength. I can do pushups, sit ups, itty bitty handstand press ups, you name it I could probably do it (at least once!) strength is what I’m good at but I couldn’t do a crow pose. I guess I wasn’t strong enough. It was when I properly learned how to chaturanga that I realised I hadn’t experienced true strength. Strength is not about the quantity, it’s about the quality. Holding an asana for 10 breaths is 10x harder than coming in and out of the asana for 10x. From then on I practiced holding the plank, holding a chaturanga, holding a navasana, holding till it hurt and pushing through that boundary till it didn’t hurt anymore… till I met another boundary.

Third was the flexibility. Who says you don’t knee flexibility to do crow pose? On my first attempt I could just about put my knees on my elbows, thats how tight my hips were. I didn’t know hip flexibility till I came to yoga but I’m fully aware of it now! My hamstrings are quite flexible and my back and sometimes bend over backwards but ask me to bring my knees to my chest and thats when the confidence goes down. Hip flexibility is just not something I practice so getting the hold femoral head to rotate in and all around that hip socket created a pain I didn’t even know existed but I persisted, pushed through and just dealt with it.

Fourth was just doing it. When I say “just doing it” I unfortunately do mean it in the Nike sense of literally just doing it. Let it all go, get off your butt-asana and just get on with it. It won’t happen if you don’t try. It was a random moment in India (even more significant) when I thought I should try to crow but more importantly learn to fall as a crow too. I got a towel, placed it in front of me, tried to fly and fell – on my face. Nothing broke, all teeth in place, no bleeding.. all good! So I did it again, slightly more controlled and into a tripod headstand. No problem. It was hear things really took off. I knew how to fall but how could I fly? I resisted the fall – aha! – Before I felt the gravity pulling me to a face plant I pressed all I into my finger tips and things just balanced… woah. Then, could I go further? Yes, I did and I have. From that very moment I can now hold a kakasana for maybe a minute and I can just about do a full bakasana!

So how does this all apply to life? Strangely enough when I came back from my trip and got back into work I was not only more confident but I was braver and stronger in my sales and soon enough promoted from a travel coordinator to travel designer. Sometimes I think India changed me but what I remember most about India is taking flight in crow pose. Basically what I mean on how all this kind of combines into a great yoga meaning is that metaphorically, practicing crow pose can be applied to your practice of life. Ask yourself – have you conquered your fears? Have you found your true strengths? Are you as flexible as you could be? Are you just getting on and doing it? If not – do you feel you’re pushing through in life or are you stuck in a rut?

Try it. Try yoga, try crow pose, just do it and maybe you’ll see what I mean.

Remember – Stay strong, look forward and fly!

Erica Tenggara (200hr 07/14 Weekend)