Danielle is leaving us for a while. She's decided to teach at the downtown studios for a while. She says its to get some different training. The owners of that studio are very close to Bikram. They teach at the teacher's training all the time. And they have been teaching basically forever. I haven't gone to either of their studios yet, and think that maybe sometime I should.
I think this is probably a good decision for Danielle. Teacher training, it seems to me, gives people enough so they can lead a class. There's still a wide gap from there to becoming a great teacher. And if exposure to other styles of teaching will help her, I think it will probably be a great thing for her. But it's also our loss.
Class was good and hard. I got off to a rocky start. I didn't get to eat anything until almost two, and I almost lost it all in the first forward bend. In the first set I had to decide between literally losing my lunch, or easing off quite a bit on the pose. I opted not to throw up. Second set was better, and I thought I was over it. And then I had a wave of dizziness in Awkward Pose.
With those two warnings, I settled in and started to really focus on nothing but breathing. It helped tremendously. And I turned what could have been a total disaster into a respectable class. Just a few months ago, I think I probably would have been a whining ball of jelly by the back strengthening series if I started with the same problems. So I'm taking this class' recovery as something of a moral victory.
The day 148 meditation contrasts a walk through the woods in Autumn, with walking through city streets in the dead of winter. The one brings a feeling of connection to nature and the seasons, and makes Gates feel the workings of eternal recurrence. The other makes him think that nothing will ever change and that everything will just stay dead.
The interesting thing is how Gates connects this idea to asana practice. The urban landscape in winter is a rough picture for how we are without asana practice, with things disconnected and out of balance. Asana practice puts us back in touch with the physical. It's another way to take the walk in the woods -- to connect again to nature and to the physical.
I was reading just these same thought's the other day. Hannah posted about A Trip to the Country just a few days ago. And I think she puts it better than Gates does, so I will take the liberty of quoting:
I wanted to tell my mother this—tell her that there, on my mat, in a strange way, I am in the country, in the great wide outdoors, working my body as I would work the land, listening to my breath as I would listen to the breeze and the bird calls. Spirited, happy, fulfilled, at peace. The sky reflected in my cleared eyes.
In the woods, Gates felt a connection to nature. On the mat, we get more in contact with what Gates calls the intelligence of our bodies. Of course, our bodies are simply a part of nature. But on a cold winter day in the city, most people's instinct is to shut out nature.
In the end, I don't think this is really a problem with cities, or with winter. Think of people darting from their cars during a downpour, with their shoulders hunched forward, skirting to avoid puddles, in a mad dash to get out of the weather. For them, rain is miserable. Now, if you can, think back to when you were a kid playing in the rain, stomping in puddles, kicking water and mud on your friends, singing, holding your head up to let the water drop directly into your mouth. If you let it, even now, getting drenched in a downpour can be a wonderful thing. It doesn't have to be shunned.