Friday 4:30 with Janna
A big cold front came through, and proved that my knee is not so good as I thought. It also helped prove the wisdom behind the idea that each yoga class is new. With a freshly sore knee, the poses all came as new challenges, with new limitations put before me.
Overall, class went very well. Standing series was good. My stamina was better than it’s been for a while. This time I skipped a set of Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee, but not because I was tired. Rather, going into it, I felt like my knee was not up to it.
Floor series started off well. And I had the best back strengthening series I’ve had in a while. Locust was really good, and surprisingly controlled in the first set. I even managed to keep control of my breath in Locust, a true rarity.
Then came the rolling around poses. The ones where you have to roll over to get into Savasana. My gimpiness came to the foreground. At first, I was just moving around slowly. By Half Tortoise, I was just finishing straightening my leg when the Savasana was already over and it was time to sit-up. And I slowed down from there. After Rabbit, I gave up the idea of getting into Savasana at all. But I stayed with the poses, and I felt much better after class than before, even with a very stiff knee.
The day 265 mediation brings up the connection between pranayama and meditation. According to Gates, meditation is the goal of pranayama. In traditional yoga, asana practice also aims to prepare people for meditation. Ultimately, I don’t think the three need to be separate from each other. As yoga means union, in the end an asana class will also be a pranayam class, and it will also be a moving meditation. Sometimes I can see how that might be possible.
Gate’s other point is that pranayama gives us a means for ending our war with reality. This is a broad statement, but its fairly easy to see how it works in practice. Just the other day I was trying to wire the back of receiver with a thick guage bare speaker wire. My thumbs were too large for the spaces between the plugs. The wire was almost too thick to go through the posts. I couldnt see the holes. So basically I was trying to thread a needle, blind, with my hands inside a pickle jar, and with a thread that was too thick for the needle. I was getting more and more frustrated. Then I noticed that my breathing was out of sorts, a bit rapid and shallow, and i had started to sweat too much. I was also begin to curse myself out for my own incompetence. The answer? I stepped back and forced myself to breathe slowly ten times or so. The breathing calmed things down and took the edge off the frustration. Going back to the task, I managed to do it in just a couple more tries.
That’s a ready example of pranayama ending a war with reality. And I don't offer it as some sort of revelation. Rather, it's an illustration of how simple, and perhaps mundane, the idea is. But it's just that simplicity that gives it it's real power.