Sunday, July 26, 2009

150/205 - Habits

Friday 4:30 with Rohit

I had a big, and rather late, lunch of Thai food -- Pad Thai shrimp, spicy lamb chops with basil, a pork and onion dish, etc. So I was scared going into class that my reflux would act up. Apparently, however, yoga is cool with Thai food. I never would have guessed. Either that, or something else was working in my favor. By the end of the first forward bend, it was clear that I would get through everything with some ease, and that was OK by me.

I'm working harder at really getting the grip in Standing Head to Knee. My thumbs are short, so I don't know that I'll ever get the interlocking grip that I hear about. But I can probably do much better than I have been. Right now, it still feels like I need another inch or two in my arms to get the solid grip they talk about, and I'm not sure where that inch or two will come from. Maybe shoulder and upper back flexibility? Anyway, I can scoop my foot in the right place and interlock my fingers, sort of. But the grip starts to slip a bit when I kick out, and its just not ever really as secure as I would like it to be. So that's a new area of concentration.

The high point of the class, maybe literally, was Locust. Rohit said my second set was "outrageously good." And maybe he didn't see the first set, because it felt even better. And to top that off, my legs were pretty much locked (although Rohit asked for even more on that point, so there's still room for improvement there). Of course, the consequence of doing such a good Locust is that my upper back cramped. And I could still feel it later, and even now a day later. That makes me wonder what's going to happen when that kind of effort doesn't lead to cramping.

In the day 204 meditation, Gates closes by asking us to take note of the habits we develop on the mat. Today (I know I'm jumping ahead), Lenette told us that the Yoga Sutras say that habits are one of the causes of suffering. Not good habits, or bad habits, but just habits. I'm not sure about this, one way or the other.

But here are some of my yoga habits. When I get to class, I always first look to see if my favorite spot is taken. It's probably bad enough that I still have a favorite spot (actually a first, second and third preference). But this is definitely a habit of mind that would be good to break.

Going into short Savasanas, I tend to bring both hands up to my face. It's for some sort of relief, but I don't know exactly why or how. It might be to wipe sweat, but I don't think so. This is one that I catch myself at fairly often, but I haven't been able to break it yet.

I'm redeveloping some water habits -- especially taking a short drink after Balancing Stick, and then again after Floor Bow. This is one that I break, then it comes back, then I break it again, etc. And it's time to break it yet again.

For a long time, I tended to blow my nose several times between postures in Standing Series. It was stupid, because nothing ever came out. It also offended some people. (I know this because at least twice I came into class and someone had conveniently put a box of kleenex next to my mat. I still have mixed feelings about this "hint.") I've thought about it, and I think that some sweat inside of my nose was bothering me a little, and that's part of the reason for the blowing. But it was also just a sort of protest in favor of some sort of comfort. I'm more or less over this now. At least, I can say that its no longer a habit.

In the last post I talked about adjusting my waistband. Then there's straightening my towel. And I'm sure there are still a ton of others.

What habits are you all harboring, and do you agree with Gates that they are somehow impeding your practice?


Bonnie said...

The waistband one for sure. I have always known I do it, but tried in earnest to stop in the couple of classes since I read your recent post. It's hard.

Putting a box of kleenex next to your mat strikes me as pretty rude...

Anonymous said...

Ohhh, yoga habits! What a great discussion topic for a blog post! I might have to write a bit about this myself this upcoming week...

I try, try, try oh so hard not to move between postures, so I don't have many habits regarding wiping sweat or adjusting. I mean, if hair is falling in my face, I'll move it. But otherwise, stillness reigns supreme.

So for me, the habits I'd like to break are more within the postures. Like in savasana, sometimes I have a really hard time keeping my eyes focused on just one point. Must work on that. Or, going into and out of savasana, I tend to always turn to my left coming out and then go back into savasana on my right. Why not mix it up? Break my body's habit?

It takes a long time to develop these habits, so makes sense that it'll take a long time to break them. But, I think even acknowledging their presence and place within my practice is a first big step.

thedancingj said...

Hannah beat me to it - when I think about my yoga habits, I don't think about the stuff I do before class or between postures, or even in savasana. I'm sure my worst habits are the things that I do in the postures that I'm not even aware of. Things like letting the feet slide just a LITTLE bit in the separate leg postures... letting the eyes go for a moment in a balancing posture... giving up, loosing the kick, letting the knees separate, letting the grip slide a tiny bit... essentially, going for what feels right or natural or "usual" instead of going for what's described in the original dialogue. That's the stuff that'll kill your progress, every time.

Stuff like turning one way or another, or wiping your eyes if you're going blind, or having one finger on top when you interlace instead of the other... honestly, I don't care. The series is NOT symmetrical and it's not supposed to be. We start on the same side every time. Why? Because the two sides are not the same. Right, left. Sun, moon. Ha, tha.

Duffy, I am kinda DYING for you to read the yoga sutras once you finish up with Gates. Might I suggest HOW YOGA WORKS as a guide?? (I am about as subtle as a brick.)

Bosco said...

Other than singing America the Beautiful during the long Savasana (in full voice), I can't really think of any bad habits.

Duffy Pratt said...

LOL, George. I know I recommended a prayer at that point, and America the Beautiful is a prayer. But...

Yes, there must be all sorts of stuff that happens in the poses, and of course the stuff that is worst is the stuff that we are not aware of.

I've got five months left with Gates' book. After that, we'll dig deeper into something. Maybe the Sutras themselves (although it looks like there are enormous variations in translations).

Rohit (or maybe Lenette) said a few weeks ago that you do the right side first in Bikram because of where your heart is. That's the first I had heard that, and its an interesting idea. But they both encourage using non-dominant grips, for a change, and also varying the direction you go out of Savasana.

Hannah, what's so bad about hair in your face? Is it any worse than sweat running into your eyes? It's been a long, long time since my hair was that long, and when it was I wore a headband or a ponytail for sports, so I either don't remember or never knew.

Bonnie, I agree its rude, but whoever did it probably thinks that I am even ruder for honking in class. And the waistband thing really is tough. Just keep reminding yourself that no-one else in class cares, so the only person who is bothered by it is yourself. That's what's helping me.