Saturday, July 4, 2009

131/184 - Sanctuary

Friday 4:30 with Rohit

The room started out brutally hot, and the thermostat was broken: 110 degrees with over 40 per cent humidity. So after Pranayama, Rohit simply shut off the heaters. As class went on he would give us temperature reports, because the room was cooling down slowly while the humidity rose and rose. Somewhere around Camel he announced that we had gotten under 105, and asked for a show of hands for people who thought it was cool. It was surprising how many hands went up, including mine. Sometimes, its not the temperature itself that matters, but how its changing. He also told us about teaching in Pheonix in the summertime, where sometimes they would actually have the air conditioners running in the studio, because it was like 110+ outside, and then they would open the doors if it started to get too cool.

I had a rush lunch at a Mediterranean buffet, and ate too much too fast. I went too far into the first forward bend and had some stomach distress as a result. I pulled back quite a bit, however, for the second series and got everything well under control. Despite the heat, class was really good, and fun, and I learned some things.

Rohit has been trying to get us to understand the relationship between the knees, the hips, and the flat back in the forward bend. The basic idea he's trying to impress on us is that you can't bend forward with straight legs unless your hips move backward. He had us all stand with our feet and hips against the wall and try to bend forward, and yes, its true. As a practical matter, this means that rolling the weight forward onto your toes in the first forward bend, Standing Head to Knee, and in Standing Separate Leg Stretching will get you a better hamstring stretch. And in the last forward stretch, it shows the importance of keeping the knees locked and on the floor.

The day 183 meditation is a rather long quote from one of Gates' students. There's lots of good stuff in the quote, but the idea that really hit home for me is the idea of the yoga studio as sanctuary. It's a place where you go truly to be yourself. For the most part, people have no idea about your outside life, and are happy to treat you simply as fellow yogi.

When I first started, I was a bit concerned about my gut, and soldiered gallantly through the first couple of weeks wearing my cotton T-shirt. By Eagle, it would weigh about 4 lbs and feel much heavier than that. But it soon dawned on me that no-one cared how fat I was, and the shirt soon came off. Tight shorts soon followed, shorts that I would never consider wearing anywhere else.

But that was just the start. It also became clear that, at the studio, I was always welcome and people were genuinely happy to see me. On top of that, there is the sense that no matter what things were like when you go in, they will be better when you leave. That attitude alone, I think, works wonders.

It's funny -- I've been to many churches. At all of them, they pay lip service to the idea of how they welcome sinners. With some people, maybe this has been true, but I can almost get some feeling both of judgment, and of people trying to impress each other, at churches. At the Bikram studio, however, I really do get the sense that sinners (whatever that means) and everyone are welcome. That we are all in the process together, and that there's no judgment going on. And that makes the studio feel safe, warm and welcoming. (The warmth goes without question). So, yes, for me its become a very real sanctuary.


Bonnie said...

So well said.

Bosco said...

I agree. The yoga studio is a sanctuary. There is a wonderful feeling that everyone is accepted. "Judge not" is truly a part of the environment, and there is a lot of genuine caring. Churches unfortunately are, as you point out (including my own) places of judgment, which is such a disappointing hypocrisy.

Dianne said...

Well said. What can I add? Nothing. Sanctuary it is.