Tuesday, September 29, 2009

185/271 - Race Goes to the Slow

Sunday Off.
Monday 4:30 pm with Janna

The good news is that my knee is no longer impeding anything in class (except Toe Stand). That's two classes in a row. I'm still a bit cautious about how I spin around on the floor, but for the most part, it looks like the healing is on the right track.

I'm still not sure whether this was an injury, or whether there is some deep realigning that's going on and causing these temporary problems. I say that because it seems like my knees are just a bit closer together than they used to be when I go into the first forward bend. They still aren't close to touching, but the space does seem narrower.

Class was solid, workmanlike, and fun in sections. Now that I'm supposed to be concentrating on breath, I actually find that I'm smiling (or slightly grinning) more. I've only got the breath thing down for the duration of a few poses. But just thinking about it for some reason seems to wipe the grimace off.

The day 259 meditation talks about the benefits that come simply from paying attention to your breath. The first point is that simply by bringing our awareness to our breath, we start to experience a host of benefits. Of course, most people know that gaining control of breath is one of the ways to fend off panic. But the same thing works on a smaller scale whenever you want it to. That's one of the reasons I like the name of Hannah's blog so much: Just Breathe. There are so many situations where you could offer much worse advice than this.

The other striking thing is that almost all the benefits we talk about have to do with slowing things down. The breath slows. The pulse. Metabolic activity. Even skin conductivity. With practice, we find stillness, and eventually peace. From the standpoint of well-being, it looks like slowness is just a good thing. I'm not sure why this should be so, but I have no reason to think there's something wrong with the idea.

The funny thing is that I've spent much of my life trying to be faster, and feeling a bit behind because I lacked speed. This was definitely true about foot speed. And then about my finger speed both for playing guitar and piano. And even when it came to mental games, I was never really very fast: we would have things like math quiz/races in elementary school and I never excelled at them. When it came to these sorts of things, I did better with things that were deep and hard, or sometimes with things that involved a seemingly impossible (almost intuitive) leap. But speed was never really on my side. Reading this, its kind of good to know that there's a lot to be said for slowness as well.


hannahjustbreathe said...

Ahh, such a great post. And one that resonates so much with me! Obviously.

"Just breathe" is a mantra that's long eclipsed the yoga studio and worked its way into my day-to-day life. I think of these two words all the time. And I find such comfort in them, such strength in knowing that just coming back to my breath will settle me, keep me.

bikramyogachick said...

It's all about the breath! I was reminded of that last night, outside of the yoga room.
Glad to hear your knee is feeling so much better. I love it that yoga is so healing, so restorative. Stories like yours are why I keep coming back!

Bosco said...

Slow, deliberate, conscious, connected - focus on steady breathing is an amazing thing!

Great news about your knee,
Duffy. I hope it will stay that way.