Thursday, June 12, 2003

Evening class last night was hot and humid. There's a class that ends just before ours, so they tend to get the room all warm and toasty. I made matters worse by trying to stay up with this guy next to me who has a really good practice. I have the bad habit of doing that if someone good sets up next to me. I'm not trying to compete with them or anything, I just want to see where my practice is in relation to theirs. I was able to keep up with the guy for a while, except that he could float into and out of uttanasana during the sun sals and I can't. Also, he could lift up to a near hand stand after each navasana, jump straight from down dog into the legs around the shoulders position for bhujapidasana, do the take it up and jump back vinyasa--even lifting up with spread legs in upavishta and jumping back from there, whip his legs into padmasana without having to use his hands, etc. etc. Other than that, I was not quite almost in his league. I shouldn't compare my self to others like that, I guess. In a way, it's good for me though. I got plenty worked trying to see what I could do. I should be trying that hard each time.

I was a little disappointed in myself in back bending. We only did five but I let myself wimp out and didn't push the arch and shoulder rotation limits. I had been getting a little better recently, feeling less tired and less "at the limit" when I really tried to get my feet closer to my hands. I was beginning to contemplate making gestures at unweighting my hands as the first step to going up to standing. Regrettably, I let myself think I was too tired to make a game effort of it. I just walked my hands up the wall instead. On the plus side for the practice, I was able to go into tittibhasana and then sweep the legs back to chaturanga after both bhujapidasana and for supta kurmasana. I rarely get the vinyasa after bhujapidasana. My legs always seem to slip too far down my arms and I have a hard time getting the legs extended out enough to get tittibhasana. One area I've seen steady but slow progress on is getting my arms and sometimes hands to the floor in halasana and karnapidasana. My hands and arms used to float about two or three inches off of the ground. If I exerted enough, I could force them to to the floor and even hold the tips of my little fingers to the floor for the whole count. I had to really work my triceps to make it happen. When adjusters help me, they put a slight pressure on my arms and I am able to totally relax and let my arms easily go to the floor, as long as they are holding them that is. Once they let go, they sproing back up. I'm not clear what is that I'm doing or what it is that I need to start doing or stop doing to do this one better. I wish I could figure out a way to replicate the position that allows me to just relax and let my hands go down.

Last night we had a whole bunch of people who I hadn't seen around in six or more months. I guess the recent influx of people who used to come but haven't in a long time may be due in part to most schools being out now. There's probably a shift into a summer-time crowd.

We (meaning me) had a lucky break in pranayama today. One of the folks there was from out of town. Tim knows her well as she comes to town once or twice a year and she had been to some of his workshops. Some of her family live nearby and they practice regularly with Tim. When he saw that she was there today, he announced that, in deference to our visitor, he was going to make class a little easier than usual. And it was a little easier. I didn't cheat half as much as I have previously. I hadn't really thought too much until today about how long the inhalations and exhalations take. I know they take a while, since I usually can't inhale as long as the rest of the group. When we're holding the breath retentions, I almost automatically start counting their duration. I usually get to an eight to ten for the exhale retentions and a 12-15 for the inhale retentions. I've never counted for the inhalations or exhalations though. Today, when I was changing at work, I looked up and saw the clock had a second hand. I timed one of the ujjayi type inhalations to see how long it actually takes. It took me 30 seconds. Figure an exhalation takes probably 20-25 seconds. Even without the retentions, we're breathing once a minute. Add in the retentions and it gets much worse (better?), closer to a breath roughly every 75 to 80 seconds. Not every inhale lasts that long, the longest ones are the ones right before the retentions. I think they all take at least 20 -25 seconds though. The length of the breaths is not quite as long in the alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodana) portion of the class either. The ujjayi breathing portion of the class probably lasts something close to 15 minutes. That's a long while to go when you're only taking a total of about 20 breaths. For context, the average person at rest breathes at a rate of 10 to 12 times a minute. Knowing that, I feel much less bad about not being able to do it.

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