Thursday, September 3, 2009

167/244 - When to Practice

Tuesday off.

The day 239 meditation deals with the very practical issue of when is the best time of day to practice. The opening quote says to practice before 5:30 in the morning. I agree. I always practice before 5:30 in the morning, in two senses. First, if I practice and then wait a certain amount of time, 5:30 in the a.m. will eventually roll around. Of course, when it does , I will almost certainly be asleep. But, in a literal sense, I practiced before 5:30 am. And then, of course, when I'm done with practice, 5:30 am will roll around somewhere on the planet, so again, I practiced sometime before 5:30 am, somewhere.

But, if the idea is to wake up, practice and be done with it before 5:30 am, that's both not possible with Bikram, and it wouldn't happen even if it were possible. Amy would have to have 4 am classes. She'd have to find someone crazy enough to teach them. And I'd have to wake up at 3:30 am to get to them. That would put my bedtime before my dinnertime, and while that would probably be great for the waistline, I don't see it happening any time in this life.

We do have a 6 am class and I keep saying I want to try it, but that's a noble thought that is easily repressed, especially at 5:30 am on the few times that I set the alarm to try it. I'm glad we have the 6 am class, because there may come a time when I need to go to fit a class into my schedule. Fortunately, I have been spared that necessity so far.

Gates says he used to do early practice and loved it. It woke him up and got him ready for the rest of the day. The downside was that he was much less flexible and capable in the poses. This mirrors my experience as well. In Bikram, there are some other considerations for a morning class. It's more difficult to be sure of how well hydrated you are before a morning class, and that can be some cause for concern. But on the plus side, my stomach is always empty for morning classes, and that means having no concerns over spitting up anything.

Evening classes have kind of the opposite advantages and disadvantages. The day is done, and Gates points out that there can be some trepidation during the day about whether to go to class. That's certainly true. Flexibility and strength are both much better for me at night. Hydration is usually easily managed with drinking water through the day, but spitting up can be an issue for me (especially at the 4:30 class).

The Bikram difference in the evening, or at least something that Gates doesn't mention, is what to do with the incredible energy you get from class. Often, still, I can take an 8:15 class and find myself wide awake at 2 or 3 in the morning. I never have this problem with the earlier classes, and there are things that can help even after the 8:15 class -- a long final Savasana, a long hot shower, a nice book to read before bed.

For me, I don't think there is a right or wrong time for practicing. They are simply different. And frankly, I like mixing them up. I like the feeling of going to a Saturday morning class and working myself through the morning stiffness. I like the peace and energy that it brings today. And I like just as much the satisfaction of going to an evening class and being totally on top of everything. Then, coming out of the class and feeling like I've made a very satisfying end to the day.

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