The room was really crowded today. We had 45 in class, which may be a record, at least while I was there. In some ways, its amazing how little difference a crowded room makes. By the time we get to Eagle, there is me, the person on each side, and one or two people behind me. Then there are shapes of bodies, and for the most part, that's all the other people in class register as. And of course, there's Miranda's voice, coming from above, so that I can't even really keep track of where she is in the room, since her voice always comes from the same place.
The new wrinkle in today's class came from a new injury. Not a yoga injury, but a sheer stupidity injury. Getting into the shower this morning, I jammed my toe pretty badly. I didn't realize that it was so bad until I took my sock off going into class. The middle toe on the right foot is about twice it's normal size, and a nice shade of violet. When I tried to wiggle it, I thought it might be broken. It isn't, I don't think. But it doesn't feel very good.
It had some strange effects on the practice. I almost fell down in half moon. That was fun. I had no idea that I was grabbing so much with my toes to keep my balance in the side bends. Balancing on the right foot was a bit tricky. Going up on my toes in awkward was not pleasant. But all that was basically manageable, until Rabbit. I also was not that aware of how tightly I wrap the towel around my feet in the set-up. This was the only thing in the whole class that actually caused some real pain -- go figure. Otherwise, it was a fairly solid class.
Gates talks about three things that really grabbed my attention today. First, he says that the mat is a place where it's OK to let go of control. Zeb used to say at the beginning of class "my mind and your body" and I think he may have been getting at something similar. This is tough for me to do. To me, it seems a bit contrary to the idea that we are seeking to unify body and mind. It seems counter-intuitive that the way to link mind and body is to let go of the mind. But then, on matters like this, what do I know.
The other part of this that's a bit troubling is: How do you let go? Here it's a bit like talking about faith. I've never been convinced that a person can simply choose to believe something. Nor is it obvious to me that it is a simple matter just to choose to give up control. In this way, I think the dialogue might be a big help. I may not be able, right now, to just lose control. But I'm perfectly happy to let someone else steer the ship for awhile, and maybe that's a start.
Gates says yoga is like a river, and our mats are like canoes. If you hit whitewater, keep paddling. If you get into still pools, keep paddling. Here the idea is simple, and its something I've said before. The cure for most of the ills that yoga causes seems to be more yoga. The best way to get out of a rut in yoga practice is by doing more yoga. So, here is advice that I've already discovered on my own. But I like the way he puts it: keep paddling.
Finally this from a Hopi elder: "[W]e are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves, for the moment we do that, our spiritual growth comes to a halt." Lenette is fond of Bikram telling people to kill themselves in class. The idea being that you kill your self (ego) so that you can discover a truer self. Gates asks us to give up control, which I think is a way of losing yourself in what you are doing. And the Hopi elder says to take nothing personally. All three point in the same direction, and the direction is clear. But even so, I still feel a bit as though there is a signpost on a road leading towards a river, but the bridge is out.