Thursday, May 21, 2009

98/140 - Garden, University, Prayer Mat

Wednesday 6:30 pm with Sherry

I haven't taken a 6:30 class in quite a while.  Usually, this is a great time of day for me.  Not yesterday.  Class was one of my toughest ever.  The best thing I can say about it is that I basically rolled with the difficulty and didn't beat myself up - much.

Sherry is Rohit's wife.  She stays pretty close to the dialogue and has more of a "standard" style than Rohit.  I thought she was holding the poses really long, especially in the standing series.  Then I was shocked to find that we ended 5 minutes early.  Maybe I got the impression of long holds because she really held Half Moon for a long time, and the extra energy I spent in the warm-up probably helped to knock me out later.

I missed one set of Triangle.  No biggie there -- that still happens fairly often.  Then I had to leave for a set of Cobra.  When the cold air hit me, I nearly fainted.  I got back into the room, but had to sit out a set of Locust.  That's pretty rare, but after locust, its all downhill, right?  Not yesterday.  I almost sat out of Fixed Firm, but pulled myself together.  Then I almost threw up in Half Tortoise, which I would have said was unthinkable, and sat out the second set.  Then I forced myself through Camel, made it through Rabbit and somehow made it to the end.

After class, other people were saying that they got slaughtered as well.  And I was thinking it was just me.  And then, lo and behold, I left the studio and felt absolutely great.  So, as bad as the class felt at the time, it turns out that it was just what I needed.  (By the way, objectively, the room was hot but not really that bad, at 106 and 50% humidity.)

The day 139 meditation is very short, and basically asks us to take the following quote to heart:

For those who have come to grow, the whole world is a garden.  For those who have come to learn, the whole world is a university.  For those who have come to know God, the whole world is a prayer mat.

I should have read that before going to class.  It might have done me some good.  At its best, the studio can feel a bit like all three.  And that begs the question, what did I come to the studio for yesterday? -- it seems not to grow, to learn, or to know God.  I guess if you come to suffer and struggle, then the whole world is a torture chamber ;)


Bosco said...

Pressing to your edge, as we should, I am finding it difficult if not impossible, when I have a tough class, to tell whether the difficulty was mental or physical. I have felt like my stamina is way off lately, to the point that I have wondered whether the vestiges of a cold I had a few weeks ago is still hanging out somehow in my lungs. The mere theory of some legitimate physical limitation gives me a big excuse to take refuge in during practice, and then this excuse-making in my head becomes a bigger problem than the stamina deficit itself. The best approach, of course, would be "zeal in practice without struggle," but I am clearly not there yet. My zeal and focus is usually good until about Triangle, which is kind of a turning point for me. If I go strong through Triangle I tend to stay strong, but if I feel wiped out by this point (often the result of overdoing it and letting my breath get out of control), then my mind will sometimes go out of control, feeling sorry for myself, thinking of reasons to sit out a pose, etc, etc.

I am feeling like my biggest challenge right now is to be calm, focussed, peaceful and still for the FULL 90 MINUTES, to make it a real "90 minute meditation."

Any ideas?

Duffy Pratt said...

Triangle often is the turning point. Sometimes, I get a sense that its better just to sit out a set there. If I do that without recrimination, I often feel much better for the rest of the class. And yes, if I'm strong through Triangle, that almost always signals a very good floor series.

Two things I'm finding helpful are not to drink before the big savasana, and to take an extra moment to give thanks for the hard work I put into the standing series.

The other thing that's been helpful recently is to start running Hannah's mantra ("Just breathe") from Awkward Pose all the way through the standing series, especially at any time I feel myself losing focus.

And the other thing that helps is forcing myself to smile when I can see myself in the mirror. When I fall out of Standing Bow, I tend now to laugh more than get frustrated. I'm still falling, but laughing about it seems to make everything else better.

And it's very possible that you are fighting off a cold. Stamina seems to come and go in waves. I'll have 3 or 4 classes in a row that are great, and then I get knocked out. Sometimes just the opposite, where I can't get through the whole series for a few classes in a row, and then BAM, a totally wonderful class. For this, I think the only answer is to keep going, and keep trying to do your best without punishing yourself.

Even if you think you are making some excuses, I find it hard to believe that you are really dogging it. Or if you are, my guess is that dogging it for you is a really strong effort for the average student.

hannahjustbreathe said...

I feel your pain, Duffy. I've had some rough classes of late.

But, I think you're right---we show up to suffer, yes...and that suffering somehow helps us grow, learn, and become stronger, in both body and spirit.

I like this day's mantra very much. Might just have to write this one down...

Bosco said...

Thanks, Duffy. I will follow your advice. I think "Just Breathe" is a great idea, and smiling and gratitude following savasana too. No, I don't think I am dogging it at all, but I am TEMPTED to - and I hope to move beyond that mental struggle and just keep focussed, still and zealous. It is a huge challenge to stay "in the game" for 90 minutes.