Review of Paige Elizabeth’s Karandavasana Masterclass

I’ve failed at Karandavasana — a pose in Ashtanga Yoga’s intermediate series — more times than anything else in my life apart from perhaps seducing women.

It’s the yoga pose where you do a forearm stand, cross your legs into lotus, lower them down until they rest on your arms, and then return triumphantly back to the forearm stand. It’s fiendishly difficult.

After years of generally avoiding this posture I decided earlier this year to tackle this pose once and for all. I was fed up of being stopped there by Ashtanga teachers who, in this method of teaching, do not allow students to traverse beyond their shittiest pose.

After mentioning my frustration, via Facebook chat, to Paige Elizabeth, a Las Vegas-based Ashtanga teacher, she let me have a review copy of her Karandavasana masterclass. It is the first in a series from her Dharmic Path company that breaks down some of Ashtanga’s more devilish poses — the kind that have people stuck for months on end.

For practitioners just approaching what Elizabeth calls this “beast of an asana,” this video will be incredibly helpful, especially for those who don’t have a daily teacher. And, at nearly an hour long, it’s the most detailed breakdown of the karandavasana I’ve come across.

The title, “Climbing Everest” is apt as Elizabeth breaks down the pose into several stages the aspirant must pass through before reaching the peaks of the pose’s full expression. There preparatory steps feel like a mini-series in themselves and include pincha mayurasana (the forearm stand), pressing into pincha, crow pose and more.

For those poor sods stuck chasing this pesky duck (Karandavasana means “Himalayan duck pose”) I wouldn’t be surprised if the instructions here cut your wait time in half. However, the recommendations in the video do require a significant time commitment, something I struggled to fit in beyond my usual Ashtanga practice.

Don’t expect any esotericism or spiritual instructions here either. Elizabeth’s style is like that of a dance instructor: pragmatic and encouraging. For her, this is about moving people from a collapsed sweaty mess to the peaks of the perfect pose. She seems happy to leave aside wild stories of Hindu gods or cutesy recommendations for living an open-hearted life.

The one thing that lets it down for me is the production. With a price tag of $40 I expected a few more camera angles and less echo on the sound. However, Elizabeth has told me that, as this was her first video, it had to be self-produced and she had a full production team work on her other masterclasses.

However, for an hour workshop, you can’t argue with the value of the content. It’s clearly presented and demonstrated in a manner that makes you itch to get on your mat.

So, for anyone who despairs of ever reaching the heights of this pose, this video will have some new tricks for you. Happy Himalayan duck hunting everyone.

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