Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 35 -- Changing the World One Camel at a Time

8:30 am with Lenette, and 4:30 pm with Zeb.

I only got about 4.5 hours sleep last night. I stayed up watching the morning's Tour de France stage. And I felt really stiff going in. So after yesterday's class, I was not expecting to enjoy the class. And once again I was wrong. In some ways, how I feel going in tends to be a reverse barometer for how the class will go. The entire class felt smooth and natural. I did fairly well on the balancing series and think I'm making some progress in locking the knee. My Toe Stand on the left foot was my best yet, I kept one hand up in prayer for almost the full time. And Locust was strong in both sets, considering how worn out my back muscles are at this point.

In between sets of Camel, Lenette repeated something she has heard from Bikram. He says that 25% of the people who start with Bikram Yoga continue to do it after one year. And that 10% continue doing it after 5 years. (Its not clear from the wording whether that means 10% of the starting group, or 10% of of the 25%, but it doesn't really matter for the story. It's just something I'm curious about.) He then says that those 10% will change the world. Lenette added that, of course, the people don't really change the world; rather, they change themselves, and because they change, their world and thus the world changes. This idea reminds me of the saying that "The world of the happy man is different than the world of the unhappy man." And in some ways, I think this idea lies at the heart of the difference between yoga and all the other exercise that I've done.

I have been thinking about doing a few more doubles to leave open the option of going 100 days without having to be forced into doing makeup doubles. So today I went to the 4:30 class, mostly because at a quarter to four, I really, really didn't want to go. I'd been having some borderine cramping in my hamstrings, felt tired, and just not in the mood. So, I pulled myself together and got myself ready for a tough Zeb class.

About halfway through the first breathing exercise, I had a revelation. I was doing this class as a bonus. I wasn't doing it to complete the challenge, but simply because I wanted to be there. In some ways, I was just doing the class because I could. And that slight change in attitude seemed to shift everything, and I had one of my most enjoyable classes ever. In each posture, instead of just blindly pushing myself, I tried to feel something new. I wouldn't focus necessarily on the painful part, but perhaps on parts of my body that I never really thought about in that posture. And, even though I was working as hard as ever, it felt much easier than it has in the last few days. Zeb held us for a long time in first set of Camel, and I just went with it and got maybe a deeper bend than I have before. Maybe not world changing, but who knows?

One other thing about Zeb: he doesn't make personal corrections all that often, but when he does say something specifically directed at me, it has always been spot on, and made a huge difference later. Today, he corrected my downward reaching arm in triangle, and the difference was pretty amazing.

After class, I read a fellow student's blog about the same class. (Reminder to self: add the link to her blog to the side column.) She said that one of her bosses asked her "Why the challenge?" and she couldn't come up with an answer other than that everyone else was doing it, and that now she had committed to doing it and she was going to follow through. I think doing it because you decided to do it and will carry it out is an excellent reason, and may be enough. But I've been thinking about my own motivations. The incredibly huge benefits I saw from the yoga came in a rush before the challenge started. As sore as I am now, I can't really say that I've seen alot of physical benefit from doing the challenge, at least not immediate benefit. And, at this point, I can't say that I'm in this primarily for the physical benefit.

So why the challenge? In some ways it goes to what Bikram says. In the past, I've tended to get involved in something, typically running or biking, for a medium amount of time, and then let it slip away while my condition fell apart again. Amy says that once a person does one of these challenges, Bikram yoga gets into their blood and it becomes very difficult to quit. And that's part of it. I want to be one of the 25% who sticks it out for a year, one of the 10% still at it after five years. But more, I have some faith that if I do that, I will change my world. But getting there means changing the world one Camel at a time. Hence the challenge.

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