My Friday class with Janna, or something after it, set my knee back quite a bit, so I decided to take an extra day off again. I'm feeling like quite the slacker.
The day 244 meditation describes an all too familiar process during class. For this post, I'm calling it the attention yo-yo. We might start out distracted, with the mind on all sorts of things that just happenned -- the driver that cut you off, someone who yelled at you at work, maybe just a feeling of being pressed by that inner to-do list. And then, as practice goes on, attention focuses on breath, on the feeling of the poses, on finding the edge. And then something breaks that connection, the mind starts wandering again, of maybe just starts cursing the heat. And again, with attention to the poses, we try to bring it back into control. And so our level of distraction tends to yo-yo up and down through a typical class.
Over time and with lots of focus, Gates says we gradually get more and more control over the yo-yo effect. We cultivate stillness in the poses, stillness between the poses, and that stillness gradually comes to our minds as well. I think this is an apt description, but its nothing like the linear progress a novitiate might suppose. Instead, I'm finding that there are whole weeks where my mind seems to be bouncing where ever it will, doing Walk the Dog, Loop the Loop, and maybe even Buddha's Revenge, and all sorts of other yo-yo tricks that I could never actually do. But over time, and I'm still very early in this process, I think there is genuine progress.
Gates also calls attention to savasana at the end of class as part of learning rest and peacefulness. Here's where Bikram really is different, and I think the difference really pays off. We get Savasana in the middle of class, and then a short savasana between all the floor poses. At first, these breaks were great because I was just so happy not to have to be doing another strenuous pose for a few seconds. I've come to appreciate them more, and when things are going well, the savasanas are genuinely energizing. We're told again and again in class that these short savasanas are one of things that truly sets the Bikram series apart from other styles of yoga.
The final savasana, however, gets kind of short shrift in Bikram. I've taken other classes where there's 5 minutes or more of simply lying still before class is over. And in those classes, the teacher usually emphasized that that time was the most important part of class. In Bikram, for most people, its two minutes or less and they are out of the room. Often its less.
Thinking about it, I realize I've recently been skimping on the Final Savasana. For a while, I told myself that I could not leave the room until it no longer felt like an escape. Now, I rarely feel like I have to "escape" the heat, or anything else, so that rule doesn't work well anymore. And I probably should come up with some other way to extend that time.