Marichyasana D – My nemesis, my teacher

I love Ashtanga, I really do. I love the discipline and commitment it both requires and inspires. I love how it becomes a moving meditation, once you know the sequence. I love that there is a set sequence, because my control freak tendencies require that I know what is coming up next AT ALL TIMES. And, let’s admit it, when advanced Ashtangis get their yoga on, it’s pretty awesome to watch.

In the spirit of satya (truth), however, I must confess – I don’t practice it all that often.

It’s not because I’m lazy. It’s not because I get bored with the routine, or find it too lengthy.

It’s because of one asana and my desire to avoid it at all costs.

Marichyasana D. My nemesis.

I know I’m not alone in struggling with this pose. Google it, and you’ll find countless blog posts, YouTube clips and other sundry social media offering tips and advice for getting into the pose, sharing their success at finally binding (hurrah!) and, just as much, their frustration at not being able to bind/get into half lotus/twist towards the raised leg.

I can bind fully in A and C (A came quite easily, C was probably a good year of practice before the bind started to stick) and I’m almost there with B (can get one side most times, the other still only a monkey grip). I never thought I’d be able to bind in B or C at all, so when that glorious day came, it renewed my hope that, one day, just maybe, I might be able to bind in D as well.

Of course, the difficulty with Marichi D, for many (including me!), is not just the bind, but getting into the pose to begin with. Ardha Padmasana (half lotus) – check. Getting the lotus knee onto the ground – almost check. Twisting towards the raised knee and wrapping the top arm around said knee – Houston, we have a problem. The best I can hope for is hugging my knee towards my chest, encouraging a little more axial rotation of the spine.

I can’t work out whether the tightness is in my hips, spine or shoulders – or all three. Or maybe it’s those stubborn few kilos I gained this year that JUST WON’T GO.

The paradox is not lost on me – I can’t do it because I don’t practice it, and I don’t practice it because I can’t do it (and feel unco as all hell when I try).

Because of this, I’ve made a point of trying to practice Primary series more often, and with it, obviously Marichi D. And I’m realising that while I consider it my nemesis, it’s also a valuable teacher.

Ashtanga teaches this lesson anyway, but the Marichi sequence, and D in particular, have reinforced the importance of patience, discipline and commitment, as well as the courage to try again no matter how many times I fail. This time last year, I couldn’t bind in Marichi C, do headstand without a wall or practice Astavakrasana. Now I can. How? I practiced them. A LOT. Most days, if not every day. Marichi D is no different.

It’s possible that I may never be able to do Marichi D – and that’s okay. Binding in the full pose certainly looks pretty fancy, but it doesn’t make me a better person. There are lots of poses I can’t and probably will never do – but there are also lots that I can. But yoga isn’t about which poses you can and can’t do. Achieving a pose, whilst it may feel good at the time, is not the goal of yoga. The more we let our ego onto the mat and more we become attached to the outcome of our practice rather than the practice itself, the more we move away from the real aim of yoga – to surrender and unite ourselves with the Divine.

And even if one day I do, miraculously, make it into Marichi D, there’s always going to be another pose, another challenge to take it’s place – Supta Kurmasana looks like a good candidate.

This is why it’s called a practice. We practice until we get it right. And then we practice, and practice some more.

“Do your practice, all is coming” – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois


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