Thursday 6:30 with Rohit
Thursday's class was a joy because it was simply a normal class. My knee wasn't limiting me at all. I was properly hydrated. No reflux problems. The temperature in the room seemed perfect. And I just stayed with the dialogue (to the extent that Rohit does dialogue), and stayed with my breath.
I didn't skip anything. I worked hard in Triangle, and still had gas in the tank to finish standing series. Floor series was challenging, but good. Locust was particularly strong. And I finished without fading. All in all, just a very pleasant class.
The funny thing is class was that, for the second class in a row, the teacher mentioned my question about pulling in Rabbit. I checked the dialogue, and my problem isn't in the dialogue. Once you are tucked with your head on the ground, the dialogue simply says to keep the elbows straight, and says nothing about pulling. Most of the teachers I've had say that you pull with your arms, even when your elbows are straight. And this is simply not possible. There might be tension in your arms, but if you are pulling and your elbows are locked, then you must be pulling with something other than your arms. (Moreover, in all the other poses where you are told to pull with your arms -- first forward bend, Standing Separate Leg Stretching, Wind Relieving -- its quite clear that your elbows are bent and your are pulling with your biceps.)
The day 268 meditation discusses what is so important about learning to focus the attention. In several of the backbends, we are told to look up and back as far as possible, because the head will go where the eyes go. Wrestlers learn to pull someone down from the neck, because where the neck goes, the body follows. A similar thing happens with attention. When we focus our attention on something, that thing grows bigger for us. It becomes more present. There's a trivial application of this idea -- we have the ability to focus and concentrate on something far from us, excluding other stuff from our attention. With practice, we can isolate everything else out and simply pay attention to what we want. This ability to focus makes it possible to read things at a distance, to pick out small details of color or expression.
Everyone does this to one extent or another. But few people actively practice this kind of focus. That's one of the things pranayama is for. It teaches us how to pay attention to something specific, and to make the object of our attention grow and become more present for us. Once we learn to get better at this ability with breath, we can apply it elsewhere -- increasing our focus, our ability to be more present with anything we want to concentrate on. So, just as our head goes where our eyes go, and our body follows our head, so too our minds follow our attention. So it's best that we actually learn to pay attention.