Monday 6:30 pm with Connease
Often I will go into the room 5-10 minutes early. This lets me do some of the pranayama exercises Gates recommends, and also lets me get acclimated. And that's what I intended yesterday. I lay down on my mat and settled into some deep breathing. I still wasn't feeling all that well, and wasn't at all sure how I would respond to class, so the acclimatization seemed even more important.
I woke up as Connease was just starting Pranayama. I had fallen utterly asleep, and came awake with the kind of start that I remember from school days, where the head starts to drop and then BAM -- awake again, and startled all at once. The jolt basically killed the gradual relaxation I was looking for. And then, I had to consider whether I would rather take the class or simply go back to sleep on my mat.
Class was hot and hard for me. I skipped a set of Triangle, and still felt like I had nothing left by the end of standing series. Floor series was one of those classes where I alternatively felt totally exhausted, and then felt like a bit of a slacker. In short, there was very little balance or ease in the class. I had a good set of Standing Bow, and did nicely in Standing Seperate Leg Head to Knee. Otherwise, I simply felt off, and I think that all stemmed from still being a bit sick.
The remarkable thing is that after class I felt really good. No traces of sickness, lots of energy, no pain in either of my knees. So, even though the class pretty much sucked, it also turned out to be exactly what I needed.
Speaking of my knees, I have a new theory. I recently noticed that my knees are not quite as bow legged as they used to be in the resting pose. And my elbows get a bit closer together behind my legs in the first forward bend. I think my legs may be getting straighter, and that's what's causing the shifting pains in my knees, from one knee to the other, back and forth. When I first started, I had fairly constant pains in my feet, even though my plantar fascia-tis went away very quickly. These pains were definitely the result of my feet getting better and stronger. Now, I think the same sort of thing is happening in my knees, and this makes me think there is nothing seriously wrong with them.
I love the day 279 meditation. Gates says that when we start asana practice we take marriage vows to our breath. But its a strange marriage, because the fighting comes first, and then we get the honeymoon. In my experience, the relationship is even stranger than that. In some poses, breathing is quite easy and natural from the start. In others, with some understanding of the pose, its pretty easy to develop an easy breathing rhythm, at least most of the time. For me, poses like Triangle, Awkward, and Half Moon fall into this category.
Then there are the poses where it's just hard to figure out how to breathe. For me, this includes Rabbit, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee, the first backbend, and Locust. I'd love to get to the point where I could even call on my breath to help me out in these poses, but more often than not, breath simply eludes me in these poses -- especially Rabbit and Locust.
Amy has always told us, breath first, then form, then depth. Gates reminds us here that we may often need to remind ourselves to return to a relaxed, regular breath. And makes me think again how brilliant the floor series is for adding the savasanas between poses. Each one of these is a call to bring your breathing under control. To make it natural and flowing. To slow down.