Thursday, July 2, 2009

129/182 - Sustainable Practice

Wednesday 4:30 pm with Amy

Class was peaceful and enjoyable. It was perfect Bikram weather. My energy was back. I did really well in a few poses: Triangle, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee, and even the first forward bend. For the first time in a while, if ever, I felt like it might one day be possible to touch my head to my knees. I wasn't there, but the idea didn't seem ridiculous.

Lately, I've been coming close to wiping myself out by the middle of Awkward (only the second pose in the series, if there are any non-Bikramites who read this). I'm not sure exactly how I'm doing this, because it doesn't feel like I'm killing myself in Half Moon, but I must be. Anyway, at least for this day I managed to pull myself back together and the class felt just fine.

The day 181 meditation is about moderation on the mat. Gates says that exercising moderation is one of the things that makes a practice sustainable. It's definitely one of the things that drew me to Bikram yoga. When I started thinking about my health again, I didn't know what I was going to do, but I knew that I was not going to start any crash diet. And I wasn't going to do any training that I couldn't continue indefinitely. I've done many, many short term swings in my eating and exercising habits. If something wasn't sustainable, then it was out. (This is one of the reasons I've shied away from things like the Master Cleanse.) Anyway, from the start I was fascinated by the idea that you could do this unbelievably strenuous exercise every day (and even twice a day if you want).

The problem I was trying to solve is exactly the one that Abe Lincoln addresses in the quote before the meditation: Force is all conquering but its victories are short lived. That's what I always found to be true about the exercise of will power. It just gets to be so tiring constantly fighting for whatever improvements came with diet or exercise. So far, thankfully, yoga hasn't been anything like that. It's not easy, but it rarely, if ever, takes any will power. I'm still only early in my second year of practice, but I can really see continuing this indefinitely. And that's something I've never been confident of with Atkins, or with running, or cycling, or going to a gym, etc...

1 comment:

Bosco H. said...

Abe Lincoln had a great knack for brevity - what a refreshing economy of words. This is a great quote.

Point re the Master Cleanse:

It is not intended to be sustainable. It is an intense, short term crash course in healthy eating. When I did it I lost about 25 pounds, which I have not gained back since I did the cleanse a year ago. For two reasons, I think: my view of what is good to eat was permanently, indelibly altered (I am quasi-vegetarian, I thrive on almonds and pumpkin seeds); and Bikram yoga has operated to discipline my eating. Life is a bit more enjoyable at 185 than it was at 210. Much more light.

If the idea of being able to touch your head to your knees does not seem ridiculous, well, that's . . . . ridiculous!

There's all kinds of body modification surgery available nowadays - for your face, your tummy, your butt - but I haven't seen an ad on tv yet about extending the hamstring muscles. WHY must I suffer with this bodily affliction?