Monday, September 1, 2008

74/76 Maximum Benefit

2pm with Amy

Today was another solid, high energy class.  In the mid-afternoon on Labor Day it is a pretty good bet that the people who are there really want to be there.  And it was surprisingly crowded -- about 30.

My practice was solid.  I got another compliment in Standing Bow, which I think is just nuts, but I will take what I can get.  My Balancing Stick was as good as it has been.  I pushed a little harder on the forward bends that have been bothering my hip, and it doesn't seem to have any ill consequences.  We will see in the morning.

I've been wondering about something we hear all the time in the dialogue.  We're told that it doesn't matter how far we go into a posture (especially on the ones like Standing Head to Knee that no-one can do right).  As long as we go as far as possible while maintaining form we will get "maximum benefits."  I've always liked this thought, but like "pulling as hard as possible," I don't think it means what it seems to mean at first blush.  It doesn't mean that two people who do the posture differently will get the same benefits from the posture.  Instead, I think it is a positive way of saying that you can't get any further benefit from a posture by breaking form.  So, by keeping perfect form for as deep as you can go, you are getting the maximum benefit that you can get in that posture on that day.  On another day, if you can go deeper, you also get maximum benefit in one sense, while perhaps getting more benefit than you got before.  But, if you break form, you just put yourself in danger of harm without doing any further good.

I like this way of putting it.  It's basically a negative idea put in the most positive way;  Break form at your peril becomes maintain perfect form for as deep as you can and you will get maximum benefit.  And unlike the "pull as hard as possible" command, this one doesn't present danger.  Instead, its just another way of showing how thoroughly optimistic the dialogue is.  The optimism ("you can do anything for 10 seconds"  "if you kick hard enough you can balance forever" etc...) seems odd coming from a man who takes delight in calling the orange room his "torture chamber."  (This reminds me of the old joke that says that a pessimist is someone who goes around saying "This is horrible.  This is terrible.  Things can't possibly get any worse than this."  To which the optimist responds, "Oh, yes they can.")

Speaking of "torture chamber," over the last week the torture seems to have almost completely dropped out of my practice.  Either I've turned some major corner, or I'm about due for a really killer class to teach me some more humility.  

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