Wednesday, June 10, 2009

110/159 - Preparing for Class

Monday 10:30 am with Lenette

My stomach started gurgling early in the morning.  But I didn't actually feel bad, and its not really that uncommon.  When I got to the studio, I first had to make an emergency bathroom stop, and it wasn't pretty.  I had either a stomach virus or mild food poisoning, I'm not sure which.

But I shouldn't let a little thing like that interfere with practice, should I?  I went in to class and laid in savasana for about seven minutes before class started thinking:  "I can do this, can't I? How bad could it really be?"  Short answer: pretty bad.  And something of a roller coaster.

Pranayama was fine, but I could already feel the energy draining out of me.  By the middle of half moon, I was thinking that I could just lie down if it gets really bad.  By Awkward, I didn't know whether I was going to lie down or just collapse.  

So I started thinking, the strength stuff is going to be over, and then I can just focus on breath.   And that worked!  I had a really great balancing series.  I didn't fall out of Standing Head to Knee once, and I made it without falling through two parts of Standing Bow, and I kicked higher than ever before in one of those.  Right about then, I was thinking that maybe this stomach flu stuff is a blessing in disguise.

But triangle, of course, is a strength pose.  And it did me in for a while.  I skipped one set of it, and then a set of Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee.  And then I basically limped to the finish line.  I didn't have it for anything that required strength, but my flexibility was better than usual.  Lenette has said before that we sometimes make progress just when we give up or surrender, and I think something like that may have happened in Half Tortoise, in Fixed Firm, and even the final stretching.  I was much looser than usual, even though I was really dragging my sorry butt through the poses.

After class, Lenette gave me a big smile and said:  "Great class.  At least you didn't give up."  So I told her I had some stomach flu or something, and she said she already knew.  I'm still wondering exactly how she knew.   And I think she meant that she knew what was wrong with me, not just that I wasn't feeling well.  I find that pretty amazing.

The day 158 meditation talks about preparing for an asana class.  The idea is to clear your mind.  Gates talks about the sociability that goes on in his studio before class.  Our studio has none of that.  There's some chatting in the lobby, but the studio itself is very silent.  And since its a good idea to get a little acclimated to the heat, I tend to lie down for 5 minutes at least before class starts, and simply focus on breathing.  For a while I tried some warm-up stretches, but I've found that simply breathing helps prepare me better.  So I was pleased to read that Gates does breathing exercises before asana class.  I figure that between my lying down breathing and the first pranayama in class, I'm doing something similar to what Gates does.

I completely agree about starting class with a quiet mind.  That's one of the great things about a morning class.  There's less clutter that's developed in my head in the early mornings.  That advantage outweighs the somewhat reduced flexibility in the mornings.  

And I've had only a few classes where I've rushed into the studio at the very last second,.  Those always present a challenge at the start, and I've found that those are the classes where finding focus becomes most difficult.  So, even though you never know what your going to get when you go into the studio, calming down and trying for some stillness before class seems to reduce the chances of getting a lump of coal. 

1 comment:

Bosco said...

I have been amazed several times, when I have come to class with a physical problem - stiff neck, indigestion, tired, you name it - how quickly the intensity of the yoga class seems to cancel out whatever it was that was bothering me. It can cure a headache before Awkward II, or your money back!

And I totally agree with the importance of establishing stillness before class starts. It makes a big difference. The toughest classes to get into focus are often when I am running late and have to curse my way through traffic to get there on time. It's great to have 10 minutes in the room first.