Sunday 9:30 am with Rohit
Rohit took a drink during Eagle and I started laughing. He asked why. "No drinking before party time, " I squeaked out, managing not to fall out of the pose. The between poses, I said I was laughing because he had managed a three-fer. No drinking before party time. No drinking during a pose. And no drinking while people are balancing. After that it became a running joke for a little while. For me, that kind of humor lightens up the class, but I also suspect that some others might not appreciate it. I did notice that I was the only one laughing.
Class was good. I skipped nothing, and managed to avoid getting stuck at any of my sticking points. Instead, I got the hiccups again, this time during the end of Full Locust and the start of Floor Bow. And I went back on my elbows in Fixed Firm again.
A half hour before class today, the room had heated up to 72 degrees. By the time class started, it had zoomed up to 76. And by the end of class, it had climbed gradually to 90, with the humidity holding steady at around 60%.
The condensation in the room was pretty incredible. We're told to focus on our eyes in the mirror, then on our knee, etc... In this class, there was no focusing in the mirror at all. I would have expected my balance to suffer, but it didn't. Rather, not having the mirror interfered most with half moon. It seems that I've got a pretty good internal compass about how to balance and where everything should be in the other poses. But in half moon, I rely very much on the mirror to gauge hip and shoulder alignment.
As expected, the strength poses were much easier today -- Awkward, Triangle, and Back Strengthening always benefit from a cold room. If they could somehow turn the temperature down 10 degrees before Locust, I might be able to overcome my reflux problems and my mental block for the pose. Today's Locusts were the best I've done in recent memory.
I've heard lots about the benefits of the heat. No doubt it improves flexibility and depth in stretching poses. It also makes strength poses more challenging. And it often presents a mental challenge all on its own. But I still have some doubts about the long term physical benefits from a very hot room. If the room is 90 degrees and you push a stretch to its edge, is that stretch really less effective for you than a somewhat deeper stretch that you do to your edge at 103 degrees? I don't really know the answer to this, and I have my doubts about whether anyone else knows the answer either.
Ultimately yogis in all disciplines tend to get really flexible. They also improve their strength. I don't question that there are other benefits to the heat. It speeds up the warm up. Sweating tends to be a good thing. It can add a challenge on its own, simply by providing another distraction. But I really don't know about any lasting physical benefit.
The day 290 meditation talks about three stages in practice. First, there is the decision to improve yourself or to try again. According to this meditation, that is the part where "turning inward" comes into play. Then there is the honeymoon period, where dramatic changes happen. And then there is maintenance.
I'm sure his description applies to a great many situations. For example, it surely takes a certain amount of courage for an addict to give up an addiction. And it takes courage for a person to try again after some significant failure.
But I also think that it's possible for the turning inward to come later. How many people come to their first Bikram class with almost no idea of what to expect? Or come because they've heard that it's a good work-out. And then the changes start happening. And for lots of people, I think, that's all that ever happens. The turning inward never happens, and they get lots of benefits from the Bikram class, but it remains an exercise program, a hard work-out.
And then other people go through the same thing, and a light goes off. They start to learn how to forgive themselves. They start to focus and approach class with discipline. Their breathing cleans up. They start noticing that they are nicer to people generally, that they have adopted better eating habits for no particular reason. And that awareness, at some point, starts the turning inward. I think that that probably more closely describes the process in my case.