Monday this week I made my triuphant return to AYC.
Primary felt great - deep twists, forward folds, and smooth back bends.
The plan, move all asana back to Ashtanga. How I've missed it. Approach the practice with honesty and humility, only practicing primary until I could hold urdhva dandasana with some fidelity.
Monday night continued waking to take asthma meds and I haven't gotten a full nights sleep since. At work until 9pm last night, still waking a couple times for meds, breathing still sounds like an accordion and my cough and congestion is getting deeper, but still really not productive.
Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors.)
Response: The first wave I caught by myself.
It was the Friday after my Grandfather had passed, overcast, chilly, and drizzly summer day up in RI. I decided that I was going to go set a little surfing in as the waves were decent, not too big, not too small. Just right. There were only a few others out there in the line-up and I was just chatting away and 'Rad told me to start paddling.
I felt the board catch the wave and without prompting, I was up on the board, surfing down the line.
Walk out to the edge.
Walk off the end of the board.
How long did it last?
I don't know.
It was a moment that lingered excitedly in slow motion. Like the drop in your stomach with that first glance where you catch the Truth of someone's soul in their eyes for the first time.
* * *
Another long day at work yesterday and another Bikram class.
After three Birkam days in a row, must admit, my muscles are a bit tired and the poses didn't feel as deep as they did on Tuesday. It's that cycle: Build strength, lose flexibility and then regain flexibility.
Some of the things I'm wondering about:
First: The script and the lack of deviation from it.
If I were to teach, I'm not sure I could actually teach that way.
Call me a rebel and nonconformist.
It feels a bit contrived and automated. Yet still with three different teachers, same script, each night this past week, wildly different classes. Tuesdays class hot, strong, and methodical. Wednesday night fast and on point. Thursday night hot, slow, and gentle (as gentle as a Bikram class can be).
Second: Set Sequence.
As weird as the 26 posture Bikram sequence is to anyone who's practiced Ashtanga or been through a well sequenced Iyengar class (or Jivamukti or Dhama Mittra or Baptiste or general hatha vinyasa for that matter), it's actually starting to make a bit sense. I can't explain it, but if I figure out a way to, you'll hear it here first.
I still don't agree with what they call the various asanas. Their triangle pose is not what I would call trikonasana in the least thankyouverymuch. Also, unfortunately, I still chuckle and roll my eyes to myself every time they announce the first water break and do the prep for their variation on natarajasana, called dandayamana dhanurasana. Maybe it's a bit of lingering judgmental yoga elitism.
Three: Progressing and injury avoidance.
I'm sure the teachers wouldn't let a student get themselves into a position where they are going to injure themselves. But have to wonder how with minimal correction and instruction how your average brand new yoga student will readily progress and deepen their practice, and begin to realize the benefits yoga possesses. Time can really only do so much without a little help from someone more knowledgeable. Bikram, like Baptiste, seems like a great "gateway yoga drug." It takes a special person to want to delve into the worlds of Iyengar and Ashtanga and many who practice these styles with devotion will readily admit, we're all just a bit crazy and quite possibly slightly OCD.
Plain and simple, Bikram is generally more accessible. Sure from Ashtanga and Iyengar I have little tricks to help me find some form of edge and depth in a Bikram class; however, I've come really appreciate (if not maybe rely on) the guidance of a teacher to take things to the next level, even if it is the smallest of correction. It's quite easy for me to maintain interest in Ashtanga and Iyengar. In Ashtanga you know there are a bunch of sequences out there and can begin to see how each pose/sequence builds upon the previous. In Iyengar there are always refinements to be made. How is it possible to maintain interest with 26 postures and feeling held back from your full/deepest possible asana expression so that you don't "confuse the other students?"
If that were held through the Mysore system, there were certainly be far fewer practitioners. Is that one of the main reasons people leave Bikram? I've come to realize that's one of the beauties of the Ashtanga system, that someone who practices half of primary practices next to someone who splits primary for intermediate.
At least I was able to rally myself to a little pre-workday restorative practice today.
Prompt: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing -- and can you eliminate it?
Response:I must admit I'm a bit stuck on this one and find it a bit, um, how shall I put it gently - solipsistic.
Every bit of existence somehow feeds into another. Sure my existence could be streamlined. But a gal's gotta put in her time for "The Man" to feed first and foremost her yoga habit (shoe/art/cooking habits following close behind) which provides fodder for the keyboard.
Without experience what is there to write about? Truth is almost always stranger than fiction and upon reflection, many of us have have lived extraordinary lives filled with adventure. The key is recognizing the adventure within a "normal" existence. Only boring people get bored.
Now I wonder if I could give up sleeping.
Nope that's all too necessary for recuperation from a yoga practice.
OOH! I have come up with something I can do without. Facebook.
I still don't get the hype and self promotion (yes, yes, blogging is right up there with facebooking/twitting but there is certainly a distinction) and why and how people can put so much time into it, then throw in all of the various changes in etiquette that have resulted. Sure I'm in touch with people I probably would have not been otherwise - but who's to say our paths wouldn't have crossed otherwise. (Ok, maybe I might not have come across my 7th grade boyfriend - who I learned is now a Latin ballroom dance instructor - again without the mystical powers of Facebook.)
That all being said, can I eliminate it? Sure. Would I probably miss some things that I should know? Yes. But then I think of it like declaring email bankruptcy after a two week vacation.
If it's important, it will find a way to make itself known. steps off soap box
* * *
Last night's yoga class brought to you by: Bikram Takoma Park.
At least with these crazy work hours I've been able to get into a class. I'm starting to wonder if my growing affinity towards Bikram has to do with the ease of availability. And I have also had these wild flutterings of temptation to do one of those crazy 30-day challenges.
Prompt:One Word.Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you're choosing that word. Now, imagine it's one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
It's been a year of observation, processing and growing, evolving. Moving forward with little hesitation, opening to new experiences and working to achieve the balance (not necessarily with the most forthright "success") within what needs to be done and what I want for my life. With all of this, the realization that to actually do it all, concessions must be made.
2011 Manifest: Catharsis.
Emergence into an even richer sense of self - from yoga to work to art and life in general.
* * *
Stumbled on this little project from a friend from HS' blog. Seemed like a good thing to do to get back into the writing/blogging habit. On multiple occasions, D has mentioned "No Ashtanga, no blogging?" Well, at the tail end of the year, I'm going to rectify this - even if by way of an outside construct.
Work work has been a pretty dominant force recently, pulling late hours. I haven't seen the light of day at 4:30am for a couple weeks now and that's beginning to get a tad frustrating.
But I'll be back to the early morning mat soon and have made plans on coupling this #reverb10 project with a daily asana practice.
Nothing like going all in at the last possible moment.