The driver's seat of my wife's car hates me. After about 15 minutes driving, it felt like someone was sticking hot knives into both of my hips, and then it started to get worse and worse. To top it off, I couldn't really adjust my seating that well without getting twinges in my stiff back. No other seat in the world does that to me: it must be the miracle of German engineering.
Anyway, I spent the rest of the day doing impromptu backbends and standing up really straight, to get the pressure out of my lower back and my hips. And that worked pretty well, but I was still stiff in class. Most notably in Standing Head to Knee, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee, Wind Removing Pose, and Rabbit.
On the plus side, I hit my goal for the year in the first backbend. I definitely saw the ballet bar. Whatever is wrong with my lower back (and I still think its just a slight strain), it definitely is not interfering with my backbending. Now I have to come up with another goal. The next one will probably be for my renewal year. And I need to think on it for a little bit. I've really sort of dumbfounded that I already made the backbend goal, since a few months ago I would have said that it was unlikely, if not impossible.
And that brings us to today's meditation, which is a further reflection on tapas. The idea that I loved from today's meditation is that progress and consistency in practice derive not from any kind of iron discipline, but from the desire to know more. When I took the 60 day challenge, it was an exercise in discipline and commitment. And it was worthwhile, but the need to go to class every day became very wearing.
I vividly remember one day where I went to class in the morning full of resentment, because it was another day when I had to be there. The simple matter of discipline was draining the life out of the practice. The reason I remember that day so well is because I came back for the evening class, not because I had to, but because I wanted to see what the double would be like. I was exploring. I simply chose to be there because I wanted to learn a bit more about my limits. And I loved the second class even more than I resented the morning class.
In the end, I think it would take a rare person who could sustain a blossoming practice simply out of self-discipline. Fortunately, that's not needed. In almost every class, even the ones that are otherwise pure torture, I find some detail about the practice, or about how my body reacts to things, that I hadn't noticed before. And from the more experienced yogis I've talked to, the self-discovery just on the physical level is perpetual.
And then there are the simple spiritual lessons that come from class. The humidifier is basically broken, and cranked up all the way, it was still only 20% humidity in the class. The temperature was 107, and it still felt cold. I barely broke a sweat. Anyway, those conditions probably made it harder for me to work through my stiffness. But I was able to pay even closer attention to how things were working, and I learned a bit more about staying within my limits and not simply pushing for the sake of pushing. In other words, I learned a bit tonight about how to accept the conditions for what they were, and to be satisfied with a good stretching feeling, and not pushing too hard and risking pulling something else. The asana practice, at least tonight, was also an exercise in honesty and in contentment. That's a pretty good threefer. And, as usual, I felt much, much better coming out of class. (I've got to start going in the mornings again so I can take advantage of that boost through the rest of the day. Maybe tomorrow.)