Friday, December 3, 2010

#reverb10: Day 03 -- Moment.

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.

Simple. Easy.

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.
Hang 5.
Hang 10.
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.

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