Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 25 -- Advanced Series

12 noon with Libby.

Class was small, and it was more like a meeting of friends with a mutual interest than a disciplined Bikram class.  There were seven of us, and at first I felt like I had no business being there (and I still won't say that that feeling was wrong), but Tracey was there too, and she started Bikram after I did, so that bumped up the comfort level some.

The series itself includes at least one set of all the 26 poses from the beginning series, but there is much, much less time devoted to the set-ups, and the postures may not be held for as long as in the beginning series.  For example, in Triangle, it typically takes 30 seconds to a minute for the teacher to bring us fully through the set up before we move arms into the posture.  Here, its presumed you know the pose and you just do it.  One amazing thing is that this didn't cause me much trouble.

Then there are alot more poses.  We did a series of extensive warm-ups to get ready to do Lotus, which is the traditional meditation posture with the legs crossed over each other.  But, and I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, once we were in Lotus there was a series of about 6 postures that we went into while keeping the legs crossed.   I was amazed enough that I got into a respectable Lotus to begin with, but then trying to keep up with some of the really bendy stuff... It was both intimidating and awe inspiring, and who knows, maybe in a couple of months, more or less, I'll be able to get myself into some of that stuff.

Other new things were a bunch of hand balancing postures,  a shoulderstand series, and a "leg-breaking" series.  When I heard the last one, I started laughing.  But its no joke.  These poses were much deeper and more involved than anything I've encountered in other classes.  Actually, moreso than anything I've seen in person.  It's pretty cool to see fellow classmates with both legs wrapped behind their heads -- or a guy balancing on his hands with his entire body parallel to the floor about 3 inches above it.  Amazing stuff.  And even more amazing is that all of this stuff is within reach someday.  

Actually, at one point in one of the ridiculous poses, I blurted out "No way.",  and Libby said "Of course there will be no way if you don't try."  And, of course she's right.  So I made up my mind at that point to give everything my best effort, no matter how ridiculous it seemed.  After all, I felt exactly the same way about much of the beginning series as well, and while I can't do full expressions of those poses yet, I definitely think they are all possible.  So, why not these?

Anyway, the class lasted a full 2 hours and 15 minutes.  After the first 90 minutes, I started to feel like it was time to get out of the heat, because I've gotten used to the 90 minute dosage.  All in all, the class did not feel as intense as a hard regular class.  Partly, I think that's because I did some more sitting out than usual.  Partly, it was because some of the poses involve more stretching, which allows a type of rest during the posture.  Almost everything in a regular class has as much strengthening as stretching.   And part of it was just the more congenial attitude of the class.

Libby is planning on offering these classes every Sunday.  But there is a catch.  I asked her if she thought I did well enough to continue.  She said that was no problem, but if I was going to continue, I would have to compete.  I think Yoga Competition is kind of an oxymoron.  But I have no problem with going on stage and making a fool of myself (I've done it before with no particularly harmful effect).  So if that's the price of continuing, its fine with me.  And that was OK with her, too.  She said that the point was not how deep or well someone did the postures, but demonstrating the focus and discipline that one brings to their practice.  And, she said on those scores I would do just fine.  A very nice compliment.

Later, I might comment on the new levels of soreness (or body awareness) that this class has brought. 

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