Thursday 10:30 with Janna
Getting through the full class without sitting anything out is an accomplishment. But recently, I've been making too much of it. I'll push really hard in standing series, and be completely at my edge going into triangle. The question then is whether or not I'll be able to get through the next two poses, because from there its all downhill. More often than not in the last couple of weeks, including today, the answer is no. And that should be OK, but for some reason I can't just let it be OK. Every time I take a knee, there's a slight feeling of disappointment. In the back of my mind, I can't quite let go of the idea that sitting out at that point is a tiny failure, a hint of weakness. And I also know that its stupid, because the reason I'm sitting out largely stems from the huge effort I've already put in. The victory should come simply in honestly getting to my edge. But I want more -- I want to be the guy who toughs it out, even though I know better.
And this leads to one of the great yoga paradoxes: what I'm seeing is that I'm not content with my current stamina, and, more tellingly, I'm dissatisfied with my discontent. I come her thinking that I need to work on my contentment. And, of course, I know that is the wrong way to go about it. Instead, I simply need to let go of my desire to make it through everything, and simply stay within the rules that I set for myself (Breathing through the mouth? then rest.)
Today's class started off as another scorcher. I'm gradually getting used to the extra heat, but its amazing what an extra five degrees can do to stamina, and the way it messes with the mind. For a good part of the class, I was really with the dialogue, doing exactly what she said. I noticed this especially in one part of the final Seated Head to Knee pose. I stayed with her, but she forgot to give the instruction to put the forehead to the knee, and I only realized a bit later that we were further along in the dialogue, and I was supposed to put my forehead down. For me, this miscue is actually encouraging. I have a tendency to think ahead too much, which leads to anticipation and allows me to re-enforce some bad habits. I'm working now on trying to stay much more in the present and just doing what I'm told, and the miscue and my failure to notice it for a while, is a pretty good indication that I'm on track.
We are coming to the end of the niyamas in the meditations. Yesterdays mediation was on the quotation: "God is love." Gates says that in yoga, the practice of love is through the yamas and the niyamas: caring, honesty, generosity, moderation, nonhoarding, purity, contentment, zeal, self-study, and surrender/devotion. Then, he says that through yoga, we learn to reside in stillness, and to the truth in us and to the truth in all beings. So it looks like love and truth, in this way of thinking, are the same. Perhaps, but at this point I feel like I'm swimming way over my head.
Then, he moves from this very high level of absraction to ask the reader to undertake a perfectly practical exercise: Observe when you are saying yes to love, and when you are saying no. Try to discover what it is that makes it hard to say yes sometimes. And then, when you do say no, ask yourself what would happen if you said yes.
I can't say that I've tried this yet. And I'm not 100% clear what the difference is between saying yes or no, but I suspect that learning that is part of the exercise itself. But even without having tried it, I can see how useful and powerful it might prove to be. I suspect that I'll have more to say about this later.