After a series of really tough classes, today's was nearly perfect. A good night's sleep helped, together with some better care about drinking water yesterday. Instead of feeling wiped out, and struggling from pose to pose, I just felt composed and peaceful. I was enjoying each pose, even the tough ones for me, like Locust.
I thought it might be that the heat was lower. And it was, maybe, just a bit. But after class some people were complaining about how unusually hot and sweaty it was. Humidity outside was 88%, and Amy never bothered to turn the humidifier on because it was so wet inside. So, I don't think I can put too much on the heat. It was just a good day, and let it go at that.
The high point may have come in the final forward bends. I got the back of my left knee on the floor for the first time in just about forever in the separate leg compression poses. I've been slowly working to recapture this since I forced it last summer, and hurt my leg in the process. So, as long as its taken, this still shows that I'm making some gradual progress in the forward bends.
Amy complimented me twice: on the first set of Locust. I went up easily today, and it felt like I got up further than usual. Again I have no idea how far. It's amazing to me how, when I do this pose best, it also feels easiest. And she also complimented Rabbit. I liked to hear this, because its been ages since I've had any feedback on Rabbit and its another pose where I have basically no idea how I look. (I guess very few people do. You'd have to have someone take a picture of you, and I'm not sure I want that.)
I usually read and think about the days meditation a while in advance. Today, I didn't read it until now. It's fantastic, and completely applies to my recent run of classes.
Gates first talks about the initial burst of healing that comes early in a practice. Everybody sees different benefits, but the initial benefits tend to be remarkable and startlingly fast. In my case, those early benefits were mostly medical -- from heartburn to plantar fascia-tis. I have a friend who started Bikram just a few months ago. Yesterday he was walking barefoot in a park, and noticed that his footprints showed he had arches. He's been flatfooted for as long as he can remember. Yoga has already started to cure this.
After the initial infatuation period, you start to notice the sticking points. Again, this was definitely true for me. I was used to getting amazing breakthroughs just about every class, then about once a week. Then the big breakthroughs slowed down so much that it felt like they stopped. At that point, its easy to start to get discouraged. And Gates says that, at that point, a setback can kill a person's whole practice. Fortunately, I avoided that. I managed to work through a few minor injuries, and in that process learned the important lesson that often the cure for yoga injuries is simply more yoga.
Then comes the point of the meditation: that after the initial infatuation, the important thing is to learn patience and faith. These will carry you through the difficult times. The initial burst of benefits can help alot to instill the faith you later need. The key is to believe that as long as you continue to show up, healing will happen. That's what keeps me coming back even after a series of killer classes like I've had the last week. I have enough experience now to know that it will get better. I also know that the killer classes, even if they aren't the most fun, are probably the most healing. And then, on a day like today, I get the reward: a class where everything seems just right, where the poses feel good even when they are really hard, and when its clear that after all, everything is right on course.