Sunday, June 7, 2009


Friday 4:30 pm with Sherry

Important safety tip:  when standing in front of the thermostat, just ignore it.  When I put my mat down, just in front of the podium, I noticed the temperature was about 97.  I got myself set mentally, I suppose, for a cooler class.  By the end of awkward pose, it had climbed to 105 -- still no big deal.  Then it continued to climb through the standing series.  Worse, I couldn't help but notice after each pose.  And I also let it get to me.  By the end of Triangle it had hit 112, and that's when I decided to try not to look anymore.

Anyway, the heat knocked the hell out of me in standing series.  I missed only one set of Triangle, and I had a nice standing series.  But I felt wiped out by the end of it.  The heat lowered throughout the floor series, but it didn't matter to me:  I was already cooked.  My pulse was absolutely racing in the back strengthening series, and I even had to sit out a set of bow.  Actually, I set up for it, and then just couldn't bring myself to kick when Sherry called to kick. 

I got some better control over myself after that, but came out of second set of Camel early, and also second set of Rabbit.  It was a hard class, and I felt totally drained afterward.  I think the main problem was paying too much attention to the thermometer.  I've been in hotter classes before, but I don't think I've been in too many classes that messed with my mind as much. 

And this makes me wonder if I'm really getting so prissy about class conditions?  One day I'm quibbling about timing, which shouldn't bother me at all.  The very next day, it's temperature control.  At least, on Friday I didn't resent the temperature swing.  Instead, I allowed the starting temperature to set an expectation, and then I let the change mess with what I had anticipated.  So, I got thrown for a loop.  But on another level, getting thrown for a loop was OK with me.  And I take that as at least a bit of progress.

The day 155 meditation opens with a quote from one of Gates' students.  The meditation itself mostly praises the student and talks about how the student has incorporated what he has learned into his life.  The student's quote is interesting and encouraging.  It confirms several the things.  

First, he talks about how yoga is not based on faith but on experience.  I think what he is getting at here is that yoga is, first and foremost, a practical discipline.  Some disciplines ask for faith up front, and then promise some payoff later on.  Yoga asks simply that you try something.  You don't have to believe in the results when you start to try.  The results themselves then help build up further faith in the practice.  

Then he talks about how the postures teach you not simply how to release strength, but they also give you a kind of tour guide through stress.  They allow you to observe, listen, and learn what's going on in your body -- to confront, experience, understand, and ultimately let go of stress and blockages.  I've seen this happen some, but for me its still a work in progress.  But, going back to the first point, I have faith that I will improve in this personal observation and improve in the ability to let go of stress and blockages.  And this faith is based on the results I've already seen.


Bosco said...


Another important safety tip: Never mess with a guy with a positron collider!

Lately our studio temperature has consistently been 112 degrees or more, with 40% humidity. I think this is ratcheted up some from what it was, say, four months ago. Like they are trying to weed out the light weights or something. In part I hope this accounts for why the practice has been so challenging for me for the last several weeks.

With respect to the discussion of faith and experience, my experience with yoga has been closely analogous to the development of my religious faith. I actually began yoga as an act of faith – faith that if it worked for you, it might work for me too. So I dove in and checked it out. As you know, my experience quickly confirmed that faith. Similarly, I initially experimented with my religion, as an act of faith, by practicing it. When I did this with real intention and an honest desire to find out, I had real spiritual experiences that confirmed my initial exercise of faith. (Granted, it took a little longer to get to that point.)

Now I practice my religion and my yoga much the same way. The continuation of the practice of each is based on my experience that there is truth in them both. I would not be able to continue with either if it were not for the experiences I had initially. I continue to practice them both because my experience of each tells me: “This is good for you. You are on the right track.”

I like the word “faithfulness” more than “faith.” Faith, to me, without some resulting experience that confirms the correctness of the exercise of faith, would be very, very hard, and ultimately unsustainable. Blind faith, if you will. Faithfulness is the continued application of particular practices and beliefs that your past experiences teaches is good for you. With my yoga, as well as with my religion, there are times when I have to push through periods of doubt and resistance, but my faith in both is always restored when I apply myself consistently.

I have a hard time believing there are many people who practice anything out of faith, for very long, without finding some experiential reward that leads to greater faith.

Duffy Pratt said...

Thanks. There's lots to think about in this comment.

I'm not sure where I would draw the line between faith and curiosity, at least when it comes to someone starting a yoga practice. I guess that could be a reason for starting, but I also think its possible to start a yoga practice for lots of reasons, or for no reason at all, and still wind up in the same place.

I need to think more about what you said about starting your religious practice. The key words, I think, are "with real intention and an honest desire to find out." I've read the bible more than most religious people I know. I've been to church off and on. But I don't think I can say that I've ever done this.

Bosco said...


I think you really did hit on the key point. There has to be a real desire to find something out. If ytou aren't really looking for something it is not likely you will find anything.