Friday, October 30, 2009

200/302 - Taming the Bull

Wednesday Off
Thursday 6:30 pm with Connease

I was expecting a really hard class. It was pouring outside. The humidity soared. Just sitting out in the lobby, I started dripping sweat. Then, when I went to put my mat down, the temperature showed 107 degrees. Gulp.

And once again, I got something totally different from what I expected. I felt strong, focused, and together. I flowed with the dialogue for the most part. I made it all the way through without skipping any parts, even when I wanted to go down at the end of the standing series. Right now, most of the wanting to go down is just a newly formed bad habit.

Overall, it was one of the more pleasant classes I've had recently. I got a good correction in Balancing Stick -- not pointing my toe enough. And a nice compliment in Triangle: Connease said she could feel me stretching through the chest in shoulders just by looking at me.

For a while now, I've been feeling a bit self satisfied about my arm position in Half Moon. But a couple of days ago I demonstrated for someone how far back Rohit gets his arms by his arms, keeping them totally locked. Most men don't do this, so I think men might come to think they have something of a pass on this one.

Anyway, while demonstrating, it occurred to me that if I could demo this form, then I should also really be doing it in class. No excuses for slacking on that. I really tried harder to focus on the arm lock in this pose, and I can still feel it through my shoulder blades. It's not like I was doing it badly before. But as Rohit says, these poses really are bottomless. The surprising thing is that I thought that paying attention to this aspect of the form would hurt the overall depth. It didn't. If anything, I was going maybe a little deeper than normal.

The day 174 meditation begins with a quote about taming a bull. First you bring out the whips. As the bull learns, he becomes naturally tame. Eventually, the restraints come off, and the bull willingly follows its master. The bull is the mind. At first, we have to use the will and all of our focus to get the mind to stop bucking. Then, over time, with practice through pranayama and asana, the mind starts to become a bit more naturally tame. And, according to Gates, with the passage of months and years, eventually the mind will follow its master.

On this progression, I'm still beating myself into submission. But I like the analogy. And I have had relatively tame classes, and relatively tame days. But it still feels like the fully tame mind is a long, long ways away.

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