Friday, May 22, 2009


Thursday 10:30 am with Lenette

Such a tremendous contrast from Wednesday to Thursday.  The room started out really hot and dry:  115 degrees and 16% humidity.  Lenette played some tricks and eventually got it down to 11o with 28 % humidity.  Even though at times I felt like I was being baked, it never interfered with the practice.  Instead, the entire practice was quiet, peaceful, and delightful.

My balance was good.  I made it through two parts of Standing Head to Knee without falling and with a really solid, locked out leg.  And the rest of the standing series was strong as well.  My stamina was good.  

Locust was the best its been in days.  Lenette said that once you get up as high as I do, it helps to move your chin forward.  This allows the shoulders to press down a bit more, and gives better leverage.  I didn't really get the hang of it, but I will definitely keep it in mind.  The pose has been my nemesis, and I would be delighted if it were the first pose that I pushed to full expression.  (Well, I guess I'm close in Awkward and Triangle, but they were never that hard for me.)

It's hard to put my finger on what the difference was between the two days.  It would be tempting to blame the humidity, but I don't believe it.  Rather, I think that something was off on Wednesday, and whatever that was, it provided an opening which allowed the humidity to get to me.  And whatever it was, it was gone on Thursday morning.  

The day 140 meditation discusses the attitude we bring to the mat.  On the one hand, Gates mentions "cherished fears."  I love this idea, that not only do we have fears, but there are fears that we nurse, that we cherish, that we become attached to.  I've become too attached to fear that I might injure myself, or that I might lose stamina near the end of standing series.  Recently, I've developed something of an attachment to my fear of spitting up.  I've done it before.  It's not the end of the world when it happens, but still I let it sometimes interfere with the entire beginning of the floor series.

Together with the fears, Gates lumps doubts and questions.  These things all interfere with the energy that we should be putting into the postures.  It's like Rohit put it the other night -- struggling (which can include dealing with fears, doubts and questions) saps energy.  To the extent that we dwell on fears and doubts, we are also misdirecting energy.

The answer is both simple and perhaps difficult.  It's simply a matter of faith.  Or as Lenette put it in this class, its allowing yourself to surrender.  She said that the biggest progress comes at surprising points because progress depends on surrender.  When you stop fighting the pose, and let yourself simply BE the dialogue, you will make astonishing progress.  And I've found that to be true.  Gates says that this faith, this surrender, comes simply from remembering that things will work out with time.  This may also be true.  And it does sound simple.  The difficulty, I think is converting this idea from a kind of abstract knowledge into a habit of being.  That's part of the reason why yoga is a practice, and not a math quiz.


Bosco said...

Yesterday after a couple of weeks of classes that were quite a struggle I had a great class, feeling strong and energetic throughout. I even drew a compliment from Roxanne on Rabbit. (I do not revel in small praise egotistically, I hope, but take it as a signal that I am on the right track.) I have no idea why things turned around. My breathing was much deeper and slower. And I followed your advice from yesterday: Just Breathe; smile; and I said a little prayer of gratitude after the standing series. It was a little cooler (109 instead of more normal 112), but the humidity was way up, about 40%. I think it had a lot to do with a kind of quiet determination that I would be zealous without struggle and keep my breathing in check, and practice the full 90 minutes without letting my mind go haywire toward the end. I loved class yesterday and look forward to a reprise today.

I loved your blog this morning, Duffy. And great work in Locust. (That is not one of my strong suits.) Faith and surrender, which tie so closely to nonattachment. In Day 145 (which is actually tomorrow's reading if you are on schedule; sorry, I peaked), Brother Rolf talks about effortlessness, which takes the concept even further. The practice should be not only without struggle, it should be without effort. The aim is to learn to Be Here Now; Be the Dialogue, as you say; or as Bill Murray said in Caddyshack: "Be the Ball." It is a hard but important spiritual dimension to move into - just Being - since in our culture we tend to be more Human Doings than Human Beings. More and more I am seeing how yoga practice is teaching this.

Duffy Pratt said...

I'm trying to imagine going to SLC, where I can't breathe anyway, and then trying a class at 112 degrees and 40% humidity. It doesn't sound pretty.

It's funny. I don't know if what I suggested worked for you. Rather, I think you probably went in to class knowing that you were going to try what I had suggested. And because you went in with that attitude, you had already embraced Gates idea that everything was going to be alright.

And I think it was Chevy Chase who said "Be the ball." It's when he plays blindfolded.

Bosco said...

I stand corrected. It was Chevy Chase. How could I forget an important data point like that?

I had another great class today; I'll take them when I get them. It was amazing how helpful it was to just think of two thing: Just Breathe; and This is Effortless. It just took a lot of the drama out.