Sunday, June 14, 2009

113/164 - Sleeping Beauty

Saturday 9:30 am with Janna 

Class was challenging and good.  Teacher's timing has become a big mystery to me.  In this class, I felt like the standing poses did not last very long.  I didn't check the clock, so that was totally subjective and probably wrong.  By the end, we were running behind, and the savasanas were being cut short.  I can't account for it.  The only thing I can figure is that the poses were being held for as long as usual, and they just felt short for some reason.

Anyway, there was a huge difference between this class and the last class where the savasanas got cut short.  This time, I simply rolled with it, and it didn't bother me at all.  It's just how the class was, and it was fine.  My stamina was pretty good, but I skipped a set of Triangle.  I have to keep this in mind, because it almost feels like I'm in danger of  letting that become a habit.  Otherwise, I can't think of anything really memorable about any of my poses -- oh, I got a compliment in Rabbit, which is always nice.

The day 164 meditation talks about asana teaching us to reinhabit our bodies.  At first, this sounds sort of weird, but I think there's an awful lot to it.  Gates talks about beginners' hands.  They are all over the place.  I've noticed this as well -- hands and feet.  If I want to get a good measure of how strong the energy will be in a class, all I have to do is scan the mirror for peoples' hands in the set-up for half moon.   If I see a bunch of steeples, hands gripped firmly together, pointing straight up, composed by tight -- then I know it's going to be a good class.  But often, what I see is hands that don't know where they are or what they are doing.  

Same goes for feet.  The dialogue says something like "heels and toes together, touching nicely."  What you get is all over the place.  I especially get a kick out of the people who do half moon with their feet about 2-3 feet apart, and then start Awkward pose with them about 2-3 inches apart.  

Over time, yoga gives us body awareness.  The shape of the hands starts to matter.  So does something as simple as feet flexed, or pointed, or relaxed.  I tend to think this detailed awareness works from the outside in -- from the fingers and toes to the core.  I'm constantly amazed at how much improvement comes from focusing on the extremities, and not so much on the hamstrings or the shoulders.  

Take Rabbit, for example:  there are three things that I tend to focus on to really improve the pose.  One is bringing forehead to my knees.  That's not such a big deal for me anymore, but it was for a long time.  The second thing is really pulling on my heels, which involves mostly my hands.  And recently, I've been focusing on bringing my heels together and having them touch. That slight motion in the heels does incredible things through the back. 

It's that sort of attention to detail that, as Gates puts it, reawakens our sense of our bodies.  And I just love his closing analogy.  He says that we are like Sleeping Beauty, and the asana are like the prince whose kiss will breath life back into us.


thedancingj said...

"Re-inhabiting our bodies" doesn't sound weird to me at all! I think the best description I've heard of this process was from a woman who said, "before yoga, I existed from the neck up." Love the Sleeping Beauty idea. :)

Bosco said...

A few random thoughts inspired by this blog:

I had a class a few weeks ago where there was a woman who set up in the row behind me and right next to me, so I couldn't help but see what she was doing. And in Awkward, throughout, she kept moving her fingers, like she was warming up to play the piano or something. Very distracting!

As I think we have discussed, I have found heels together in Rabbit to be a great adjustment.

Thanks for taking Clayton and Katy to dinner. They had a great time. Clayton said you have a bumper sticker that says "I'd rather be in Savasana." I like that. They are very busy, but over the next little while it would be great if you could get them to go to a Bikram class with you. They really enjoy it - and Katy has a beautiful Standing Bow!


Duffy Pratt said...

Our culture does such a good job at objectifying the body that maybe its less weird than I first thought. That goes both ways, both for people who shun their bodies and for people who make a fetish out of their appearance.

The finger wiggling does sound distracting, but it also sounds like the woman was at least in touch with her hands. For me, one of the hardest things recently, is to simply let other people practice as they do. I get so I just want to get up from some poses and go over and help some other people. Either that, or I just want them to go out of my field of attention.

We had lots of fun with Clayton and Katie and are looking forward to seeing more of them. Bikram on weekends here is only at 9:30 and 2:30 (Yay! a new 9:30 class is starting this Sunday). I'd love for them to come sometime.