Wednesday 6:30 with Sherry
What a contrast from the last class. I went in with the same trepidations, perhaps more. But very early on, that all melted away and the class was a pure joy. Easy, focused, strong. I skipped nothing. I had really good focus in the balancing series. I felt on the outer edge during the spine strengthening series but managed to hold things together.
I'm not sure how Sherry times her classes the way she does. I swear that she holds the early standing postures for longer than most. In Standing Head to Knee, for example, you could easily squeeze in five or six forevers in the first set alone. Half moon is always a full, honest minute. But somehow, even with these full holds, she finishes the standing series with 45 minutes left. This leaves lots of time on the floor, so there is never any skimping on the savasanas. And she also holds the floor poses longer than many other teachers, since there is no need to rush at the end trying to catch up.
The timing is great, and I'm thankful for no skimping on the savasanas. But it also makes for a seriously challenging class. And I'm still not sure how she manages it. Is she saying less dialogue? Spending less time on the set-ups? Giving less time between poses in the standing series? (I don't think so on that one.) She doesn't spend much if any time between poses giving general corrections or demonstrations, and that might have something to do with it.
The day 280 meditation talks about "transcendent breathing," breathing that is "effortless and non-deliberate." Gates says that this is the point where breathing actually becomes meditation, and that most people have their first encounter with it during asana practice. He also says that he's felt it at times while training for marathons.
This is the point where effort ceases, and the person crosses a threshold. At this point, we are "no longer the doer." The breath and the action becomes effortless, our minds find stillness, and we start to experience our still center: "inaction in action." Here, we are revisiting the idea of losing yourself in the moment, finding the place where the music plays the band.
Gates says that we are likely to first experience this in asana. I first experienced this sort of thing playing basketball. And then again, at some times, playing music. And I've also had moments, and even whole stretches, in Bikram classes where I think I may have crossed the threshold. Still, this kind of meditation either makes me yearn for something I've been missing, or it gives me hope for what is to come. Which one depends upon my mood.