Sunday, July 12, 2009

140/193 - Tapas on the Mat

Saturday 9:30 a.m. with Amy
Sunday 2:30 p.m. with Rohit

Each day I go into class feeling a bit weary, and unsure of whether I am going to be able to do it. I remind myself that, if I really want, I can simply lie down in Savasana and basically take the day off. In Pranayama, I wonder what the hell I'm doing here again. And then by the middle of half moon, I feel alert, energized and ready for the whole class again. And the energized feeling lasts the whole day.

Today was a special version of that. I got to class early and lay down for 20 minutes before class started. I was ready just to stay put, but decided to get up for Pranayama and see how it would go. I was very stiff through the class, but also felt extra strong. My stamina was great, and I ended up having a very nice class.

I don't have much to report on the poses themselves. On Saturday, I felt like I was doing pretty well in Floor Bow, and then I got a compliment. That felt good, I almost never get a word in that pose. I've worked really hard at keeping my knees and feet close together, and I try to make sense out of what "kicking up" means in that pose, but for me it doesn't really feel like a kick up at all. The best advice I've heard on the pose is to really squeeze the butt as hard as possible and push the hips down. That makes sense. Also, the last couple of days that pose has basically put my lower and middle back into near cramps.

Today, I did a very nice, and relatively comfortable Locust and got a compliment on it as well. I think the work on locking my knees and keeping the feet together is starting to pay off, and I'm getting some of the height back in the pose. And, on another nice note, Fixed Firm is starting to come back gradually. I take this to mean that I'm making some progress on my right knee.

The day 191 meditation is about Tapas. Before, Gates always defined it as zeal in practice. Here, he says that the literal meaning is "heat." That's too funny. In Bikram, the heat is supplied at no extra charge.

The remainder of the meditation is about what keeps bringing us back to the practice. Gates calls it dedication. But one that is born out of a yearning for beauty, and not one that comes from self-control or will power. I think this is an interesting question right now, since I'm 24 days into the new challenge. On the most superficial level, I'm going each day now because I want to complete the challenge. But then, I'm pretty sure when the challenge is over I will probably come back the next day. And if not then, the day after. Why? I don't see it as a yearning for beauty (at least not on any superficial level).

Rather, its some strange combination of curiosity and love. When I'm feeling good, I want to go because I want to see how well I can do. When I feel off, or have a headache, I want to see what effect the yoga will have on it. And when I just don't want to go at all, I still wonder whether I will be able to pull myself through it, and whether the yoga will give me something totally unexpected, as it has so many times before. The love part I think is a bit more self-explanatory, and its pretty visceral, so I don't think I'll attempt to put it into other words.

The day 192 meditation talks about how the asana instills within many people the desire to go further, to learn more. Gates has been through AA, so I'm not surprised that he stops short of the word that comes to my mind: "addiction." In some ways I see yoga as a positive addiction. It seems to me that the deeper you dive into it, the more you uncover yet further and deeper depths. So doing more only leads to making you want to do even more. (At least, it can be that way. There certainly are lots of people who seem perfectly content to come to class 10 times a month and leave it at that, satisfied with a really good "work-out.") I think its perfectly possible for people to have positive addictions. It's a sloppy way to put it, but in some ways I think its a pretty apt description for being happily in love.

1 comment:

Bosco said...

I agree with you about positive addictions, and I am sure that's what I have with Bikram yoga. I think maybe the difference between positive and negative addictions related to choice. Negative addictions control our choice; we actually do get to chose, on the other hand, whether to indulge our positive addictions.