Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day 50 - Breathing Lesson

8:15 pm with Zeb.

50 days done.  So now I can either look at it as only 10 days left, which seems really short.  Or I'm half way there, just half way....  The idea is very daunting.  Of course, that's putting lots of weight on the future, and if I can just live in the present and go each day, it would probably be over before I knew it. 

I read a breathing tip recently that I am trying to use as best I can.  Basically, the idea is to do normal breathing, but to focus on taking a pause between the inhale and the exhale.  This is something we should be doing in the opening pranayama, and of course in savasana.  Today, I tried to apply it to the postures, when I could.  The first thing I noticed is that it takes much more control than I have at this point.  But it seems like a worthwhile goal.  It worked best for me tonight in the Seperate Leg Head to Knee pose.  I got my right front leg to lock in the first set, for only the second time. 

But for much of the rest of the class, it was a struggle just to keep my breath under control at all.  I really pushed hard in Half Moon, and then in Awkward Pose.  In the second set of Awkward Pose I went down to where my thighs were parallel to the floor, and my legs shook so bad that my quads started to cramp on the way back up.  After that, by the time I got to Triangle, I was almost totally wiped out, and it was all I could just to stay with the class.  So then the challenge was just to control my breathing between poses, and to make sure I kept breathing through the nose.  And I'm still trying to get the hang of what Bikram calls 80/20 breathing.  I sometimes try to do this, but I never really seem to grasp what its supposed to feel like.

So, after a really tough standing series, I was back to my old self in the back strengthening poses.  Cobra was pretty good.  Locust was a bust, as if I had never made the breakthrough yesterday -- I could barely get my legs off the ground at all, and I came close to spitting up again.  And Full Locust and Bow were just OK.

Then things picked up again.  In Half Tortoise, I kept my hips on my heels without Miranda pushing down on the hips.  So that's a breakthrough that seems to have stuck.  Of course, I was focusing so much on my hips that Zeb called me out for not having my elbows locked.  After class he asked me about it, and I told him I was just thinking about my hips.  He said, yeah, there are so many things to concentrate on at once.  That is about the understatement of the year.  It is almost dumbfounding how detailed these poses are.

And I finished off the series as strongly as I ever have.  I don't think I did the postures all that well.  But I managed to push harder than I can remember in everything from Half Tortoise on, and I also had really good control of my breath.  The tip I mentioned above about pausing between the inhale and exhale really worked for me here.  Pushing that hard felt great at the end, but now I'm sore and tired.

But, there's only 10 days left! (Or I'm halfway there.)

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