Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 43-- Yamas, Niyamas and Competition

8:15 pm class with Libby.

I haven't talked much about the other aspects of yoga.  The challenge board today brought up a lingering issue, which is my competitiveness.  Another student has done several doubles and caught up to me in the number of classes she has done.  This probably shouldn't drive me to do even more, but it might.

The first two parts of yoga are the yamas and niyamas:  in some ways they are the yoga version of the ten commandments.  The yamas are guides for how we interact with the outside world.  In short, they are:  1) Do no harm; non-violence, 2) Truthfulness, honesty  3) Non-stealing 4) Moderation and 5) Non-attachment
These are very broad, open to lots of interpretation, and probably bad translations from sanskrit.  Still, as ethics go, this is a pretty good starting list.
The niyamas cover how we should deal with ourselves.  They are:  1) purity, cleanliness  2) contentment 3) austerity 4) self-study and 5) surrender to god/faith.  Again, there is lots of room for interpretation here, but also alot of wisdom covered in ten words or less.

My initial reaction to the idea of yoga competition is that it struck me as an oxymoron.  Libby's husband said that they've been doing it in India for hundreds of years, which is undoubtedly true.  Bikram himself was a champion for several years.  He also said that there's nothing about yoga which is inconsistent with competition.  This may be true, but its hard to have a really well developed competitive edge and to remain content, for example.  And its pretty common for great competitors to get very attached to their goals, to the exclusion of other things.

Now back to my competitive nature.  It's pretty clear to me that one of the reasons I'm paying attention to the number of classes at all is because I've grown attached to the goal of doing more classes than anyone else.  And the goal is also, in some sense, killing my sense of being content.  So, its something I just have to let go of.  That doesn't mean I can't do any more doubles -- just that I shouldn't be doing them to get ahead of someone else.  Like other things, this is simply a matter of letting go.

Class today was very good.  I felt more comfortable than usual in Half Moon without sacrificing depth, and may have gotten deeper in the first backbend.  I also made it through the standing series without bending over between postures for breath, which is a failing that I'm trying to work on.  I still had to pause and catch my breath, going late into the setup for the second set of triangle.  But its getting better.

The spitting up is not improving.  Again, I couldn't hold Locust because I was in danger of spitting stuff all over the floor.  I don't know at this point whether the problem is physical, psychological, or some combination of the two.  Not drinking in class didn't help.  The only thing I had beforehand was about 6oz of a smoothie a couple of hours before class.  Maybe even that is too much.

Everything else was smooth sailing, almost to the point where I felt like I was being too easy on myself.  The funny thing is:  I notice that I could probably have pushed some things harder, and then I kick myself for not having gone as hard as I could.  The problem with this is that it means that no matter what I do, I end up kicking myself.  Maybe someday I will learn just to accept what I'm capable of doing, but I'm not sure I really know what that is yet.  I'm still trying to find that line between not enough and too much.  Maybe someday...

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