Friday, March 27, 2009

61/85 - Self-Study

Thursday 8:15 pm with Amy

Another great class.  Now that the heat and humidity are back to normal, I felt comfortable again trying the class with no water.  It's funny:  my mind tells me that when the humidity was down that I should sweat less and thus need less water.  And the after class evidence bore that out.  My towel wasn't even completely drenched after some of the recent classes.  But during class, it was a different thing altogether.  My mouth would get a little parched.  Parts of my face would feel dry, and this translated to: need to drink.  Anyways, no water tonight, and it translated into tons of energy throughout the class.

I haven't had a class with Amy for over a week, since before I tweaked my back.  (She spent a week with her sister on one of the Greek islands, poor thing.)  After Standing Separate Leg Head to Floor, she said that I've made real progress since she left and that sometimes its great to see the jumps that people have made after going away.  I was pleased but a bit bewildered by this.  I don't really have an idea how deep I am in the pose -- it just always feels like my head is a few miles from the floor.  And I would have thought that I had regressed in this pose, because of my back.  However, I have been paying lots of attention to form, and this is another indication that attention to form pays off.

And again, it's funny.  Every time I start paying serious attention to form, it ends up with one of these really nice compliments.  And that means that it shows that I'm making some real progress.  So why don't I just pay constant attention to form throughout, and finally learn the lesson???  This is a hard one to explain -- sometimes, I think its simply a matter of neglect.  Partially, I think its because 90 full minutes of that kind of concentration can just be hard to pull off.

I went all the way down in both sets of Fixed Firm, but I think I may be pushing it too hard.  My knees might be coming just a tiny bit off the floor.  I'm going to have to ease off this one, or at least be very careful.  And again, Camel and Rabbit both felt very strong.

The fourth niyama is self study.  A big part of this, it appears, is the reading and re-reading of spiritual texts.  It's very hard for me to believe that the reading is actually essential:  part of me thinks that the principles of yoga must have been possible to achieve in societies that had not developed writing.  Or to put it another way:  one of the ideas that I like about yoga is that we already have everything that we need (the Wizard of Oz aspect).  Dependence on books written by others seems to undercut this idea.

But that's a quibble.  I do have access to books, and I read more than most, so on a practical level this is no problem.  Indeed, I think Gate's book, and my study of it here, is a pretty good start on the road of self study.  

A few nights ago my wife was impatient with me clacking away here.  She said:  "Nobody's gonna read that anyway."  My immediate reaction was: "That's not why I'm writing it."  Of course, I'm delighted with whatever readership I have, and I love getting the comments.  But this blog, I think, is just an aspect of this idea of self-study.  If I take it upon myself to write, then that increases the chances that I will actually think some.


hannahjustbreathe said...

I'm crushing on your blog these last few days, man. Great posts. Several points...

Concentrating for the full 90 minutes on precision in form IS a tremendous challenge. In doing this, we're putting our ego in the backseat; we're ignoring how we *think* we should look and focusing instead on how the teacher tells us to position our limbs; we're moving mere millimeteres when we want to move whole inches. But, when we do this, the results---clearly!---are worth the work.

To me, self study is all about reflecting on self in regard to A, B, or C. Reading a spiritual text and then looking at how my own actions/beliefs align with or wholly detract from the philosophy.

But, I think you've hit the nail on the head---writing, for me, is the purest form of self reflection and self understanding. (I think that's why I wasn't a very good professional writer---I had a hard time writing for an audience vs. just myself.) Without a doubt, your blog shows you spending serious time in self study, analyzing and evaluating thoughts, actions, values, etc.

My blog is still such an odd extension of my own self study---it's strange to know now that others read it, when all I set out to do was capture my progress, questions, and explorations of my yoga practice and of, well, myself. At what point do you censor sharing this pursuit, your self study, with the masses?

(Sorry for the ridiculously long comment!!)

bikramyogachick said...

I love your blog. You are so open, honest and transparent. Between reading this blog and Hannah's, I have great material to chew on and think about. The similarities between the three of us, wanting to live a better life, through this yoga, and being sincere about self study and reflection really touches me. Keep writing! (both of you!)