Saturday, August 8, 2009

155/216 - Mastering the Wind

Tuesday afternoon on the dock.

I did most of a practice before getting called off, enough so that I think I can reasonably take credit for it. Balancing was a bit better than on Sunday. I think with some practice, I might even get the hang of it without the mirrors.

When I was done, Yanzi decided to take some pictures of me in a few of the poses. Now this was totally new for me -- both strange and interesting to see. I did Wind Removing, Camel, Rabbit, Locust, and the first backbend for the camera. Here's what I discovered: My neck bends backward even less than I thought. In Camel, my neck ends up almost horizontal, instead of pointing nicely down. I'm not sure how to work on this, but considering I measure progress in several poses by how far back I can see, this is surely a big obstacle to that progress.

I also saw that I have a much flatter middle back than I thought. In Rabbit, I'm getting a really good bend forward in both the cervical and lumbar spine regions. But my thoracic spine might was well be an ironing board. Once again, I don't know if there's anything specific to be done about this, but it was interesting to see. And it's probably much better in the hot room than at 70 degrees on the dock.

My Locust didn't go up anywhere near as high as in class. No surprise there, and it looked about how it felt. Here, I can say that my form was good.

The first backbend was a big revelation. I've got a nice curve going, and the bend is actually more than I thought it would look like. But, its also pretty obvious that I'm still compromising in the knees and elbows, even when I think that I'm not. I need to bring more attention to my knees and elbows.

The good news is that that is the only place where I saw real form problems. The depth may not have been where I might like it to be in the other poses, but otherwise the postures looked like they were solid attempts. (If I get really daring, I might post them up here. I haven't decided yet. I was wearing a t-shirt, which obscures some parts of the poses, and they are pretty strong silhouettes.)

The day 214 meditation begins with a quote that concludes that the mind "is as hard to master as the wind." This one I can easily buy into. Bikram talks about getting the loose screws out of the mind, but I always thought that idea was a little off. I could get some control over a few loose screws. But often, my mind just runs where-ever it wants, and in courses and currents that I could never predict.

I also like this quote because the idea of the wind fits very well with the goal of practice as cultivating stillness. Sometimes the stillness seems effortless and just right. Other times, some single idea is nagging at me like a steady north wind. Other times, it's a blustery day in my mind and it seems like thoughts swirl like leaves in the currents. And then there are the days where I feel sort of like the weatherman trying to hold still in the hurricane, but unable to keep his footing and always with his eye a bit off camera in case some roof or sign should happen to blow his direction.

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