Wednesday, November 25, 2009

213/326 - Unwinding

Sunday Off
Monday 6:30 with Sherry

I remember Thursday's class as being one without high points, and without any real difficulties. I didn't skip anything. I remember being somewhat distracted by other people lying down. I don't mean someone sitting out a set of Triangle. But sometimes I simply don't understand when I see someone out for the count in second set of Fixed Firm, or in Half Tortoise. I think this must show how vastly different peoples' experience of the series must be. It's hard for me to imagine being so wiped out at those points that I would need to sit out. But obviously it happens, and to people who seem to have a pretty strong commitment to their practices.

The day 285 meditation ends the "external" limbs of yoga. It's time to turn inward, which it turns out is the translation of pratyahara. Gates compares the process of turning inward to the first couple of days of vacation -- the time where you have already arrived at your destination, but your mind and your rhythms are still back at home. Often, over the first couple of days of a vacation, there is a process of easing into the vacation itself, of unwinding. So it is with turning inward, but instead of getting used to the rhythms of a new place, you become attuned to your own internal rhythms.

This is a point where the navel gazing stereotype of the yogi might seem preferable to a Bikram practice. But even here I'm not so sure. In Bikram, the dialogue might be seen as a distraction. So too the heat. But there's no music. The poses don't change. The room doesn't change. And what you are left with is you and your reflection in the mirror. When class is going well, that's pretty much all there is. How much you get out of the class often depends solely on how much you can focus on yourself, how deeply you can turn inward.

And in some ways, it may even be easier to turn inward during this practice. For example, in Standing Head to Knee, I think it might be impossible to do the pose while having your attention elsewhere. It almost demands this kind of shift of attention. The same goes for some of the longer strength holds. Here, its possible simply to tough it out. But, if you can focus on your breath and learn simply to enjoy the sensation, then you can find ease in these poses.


Jennifer said...

Love this. :)

tracik said...

Well said. It's amazing how there can be 50 plus people packed into a studio (like this morning) and everyone thinks people are too close together. But as soon as class starts you forget about the person 12 inches away from you. You feel like it's just you, the mirror and the teachers voice. Happy Thanksgiving