Learning Chaturanga Dandasana

Our first few weeks of this course are designed to plunge us into a variety of learning experiences so we can come to class with a more sensitive understanding of what learning and literacy are all about. Whether we’re blogging or making iMovie trailers or practicing Spanish we are tapping into different parts of our mind, body, and spirit to create and communicate.

This weekend I’m asking everyone to share on their blog a story about how you came to learn a skill that deeply matters to you. This can be any skill, not necessarily one that relates directly to writing or technology. Here’s mine:

Chaturanga dandasana

Chaturanga dandasana

In Sanskrit, chaturanga dandasana means “four-limbed staff pose.” The pose requires you to engage virtually all your muscle groups and it’s deceptively difficult to get right.

When I first attempted this pose years ago in a power yoga class I flopped like a fish. It was demoralizing but funny too. I laughed out loud at the impossibility of it. The students in class who managed it–including several people old enough to be my grandparents–seemed like superheroes.

The technicalities of learning it probably aren’t interesting enough to share in detail. So I’ll just explain three milestones in my experience of learning it:

First, I realized a big problem was fear. I’d descend my body toward the floor and crash, not just because I didn’t yet have the strength for it, but also because I didn’t believe I could avoid crashing. When I finally committed to being strong enough, I was.

[Yes, everything about this is metaphorical. Read on.]

Second, an excellent yogi taught me how to give myself the experience of how it felt to do the asana correctly. Assisted by a strap, I got my arms and body into proper form, using my own body strength and giving myself the muscle memory of the pose. In other words, my body knew how to do it before it really knew how to do it.

The third milestone is about personal transformation. Chaturanga dandasana was a deeply personal goal because it symbolized my determination to carry my own weight. You’d have to know much more about my domestic life (including a house I’ve been rebuilding from the inside out–literally as well as symbolically) to fully appreciate what it means for me to feel profoundly physically capable at this moment in my life. I do chaturanga dandasana every day to remind myself how far I’ve come, and it has become a prayer-in-motion of gratitude to the universe that enables me to do it.

Image source: Sherin Bual (many thanks!) http://halffullblog.com

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2 responses to “Learning Chaturanga Dandasana

  1. Pingback: Learning Chaturanga Dandasana | Material Metaphors·

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