The room still felt cold at 112 degrees. I never thought that I would start to yearn for more humidity, but there it is. The humidifier is still broken, and it was somewhere between 10-15% today. At times my mouth felt dry, and I sipped some water just to get rid of the parched feeling, not because I otherwise needed it. Far from it, I didn't feel like I was sweating much at all.
My back felt better when I woke up, but it then interfered more with my practice than before. Part of that may be the difference between morning and night class. I always feel more limber at night, especially in the forward bends and compression poses. And those are the ones that are now most impaired: I couldn't even get my forehead to my knees in the first set of Rabbit.
The other setback was in the sit-ups. On Wednesday, I had the sit-ups figured out pretty well, and was doing them with great form. Today, I could feel a bit of a twinge in each sit up, no matter how much I clenched my butt or sucked in my stomach, and I almost gave up on them.
The plus side today was Triangle. I paid extra attention to the setup, partially because of my back, but also because there's a discussion going on in the Bikram forum at yoga.com that led me to pay some more attention to this set-up. I had some very nice triangles going on, and felt strong and secure. Then Janna complimented me on how I looked, first in class, and then again after class was over. I usually think I've got a pretty good Triangle, but today I think I must have pushed it to a new level. Better, it just felt good and satisfying, with a nice full stretch across my chest and arms.
Yesterday's meditation (I'm a day behind, and will likely stay that way for at least another day) was about how tapas leads to becoming your own teacher. Aside from the obvious point of beginning to learn for yourself, Gates focuses on the aspect of learning to become your own advocate, learning ultimately that you can't screw up your relationship with yourself by experimenting, trying new things, or even slacking off.
Once again, I think this meditation came at a very appropriate time. I have skipped class every other day for about the last week. It's hard for me not to feel guilty about this. After all, I'm doing it in part because my back has been hurting, and I feel like rest is at least as good for it as class. And I've also had other things going on that have cramped my schedule. Still, I tend to get a nagging feeling when I skip classes. Then I read that "[w]e must learn to trust that if we ... take a day off ..., we will not lose our own respect or affection." This is something I'm working on. Then I think of how, while I'm taking the time off, my enthusiasm for yoga in general is increasing. And I realize how much I wanted to be at class this morning, and I think that maybe I'm making some progress on this aspect.
Part of the self learning, part of the zeal in practice, has to be learning when to be easy on yourself as well as when to push. That's a part that's always been difficult for me. Back when I was riding my bike, I would go out day after day telling myself that I would take it easy that day. By 10-15 minutes into the ride, I would find that I had already blown that plan, and I would just push myself harder. All the while, I knew that the pushing would inevitably lead to overtraining, or illness, and to some self-recrimination. It was stupid, but a nearly compulsive behavior.
Yoga may be teaching me to treat myself more kindly, to learn to avoid the self-recriminations, and ultimately to embrace a practice that is sustainable for the long term. That's what I'm hoping for anyway.