Friday, June 06, 2003

In today's pranayama class, there was definitely somebody who was in over their head, me. To use a hackneyed e-acronym, OMFG! I probably cheated on at least every other breath, if not more often than that. To make it worse, anybody who cared to glance my way could easily tell I was sucking in extra breaths right and left. I had pulled my shirt off early on when I started getting hot, so there was no camouflage to hide my gut and chest making all those extra movements. I wondered if maybe Tim followed the approach used by Will Shortz, the editor of the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, in which the exercise is made more difficult each day of the week. "It's Friday, hmmm, let's see if I can make anybody keel over." I don't know if it was just a bad day for me or what. I realized early on that I wasn't maintaining the internal calm and the rhythm of the class as well as I had the other two days. This unsettled me and I started looking around, got further distracted and the monkey mind ruled from that point forward. I later asked one of the people that were there if the class seemed unusually hard to them. I guess he saw the hopeful look on my face because he said it was hard for him too. You wouldn't know it to watch Tim. He looked like he does any other day. There's an obvious difference between what I am able to do in asana practice compared to what my teacher is able to do. As wide as that performance gulf is, it seems miniscule compared to how far ahead he seems in what he can do in pranayama. I think part of it is the perception of difficulty. There's plenty of postures that almost anyone will realize will be very difficult, if not impossible, for them to ever do. But just sitting there breathing and holding your breath? What could be so hard about that? Forget about being able to hold my breath for the entire retention, today I didn't even get to the breath holding part before being reduced to rubble. I couldn't hang with them just breathing in and out!! The breaths were so long and drawn out, I ran out of breath during some of the inhalations. It's a weird sensation, feeling like you're using up the oxygen faster than you're inhaling it.

With that less than auspicious start, I moved right into mysore class. I started off a little roughly, I guess still feeling sorry for myself from pranayama. It took a while before the usual intensity got going. I moved a little slower thru the first series than was needed (I had to go to work directly from class, so I couldn't afford to run 10 or 15 minutes over like I sometimes do). I hadn't done any second series classes in almost two weeks and I think my last mysore class was three or four weeks ago. Some of the things that I only get to do in those kind of classes, like samakonasana and hanumanasana, were piss poor. It's like starting from scratch every time when you only do a posture a couple of times a month. I was worried that I had regressed a lot in the 2nd series backbending poses too. I was pleasantly surprised at how untraumatic kapotasana was though. Not that I can do it well. I still can barely grab my toes by myself and my technique is laughable. I was given the "two teacher" adjustment today, where one is at your hips and one at your shoulders, and they got my hands farther along my feet than I can recall ever doing before. I had none of my usual histrionic gasping and moaning either, at least that I was aware of. I also bound pasasana on both sides. I still use a cheat under my feet though, a one inch foam block. Once I'm getting bound on both sides regularly, I'll try to make the move to go without any heel elevation. I didn't have enough time to do the usual research poses that I do for the second series postures. Even without doing those extra postures, I was fairly tired by the time I finished with backbends and the teacher supported dips that we do after back bends. I ran thru a a fairly quick closing sequence and then rested. Then off to work. I had to go without a shower at work. They had me booked in from the time I got there till I left at 5:30 PM.

My nurse at work would be really good at yoga. She sees me looking at yoga books and yoga web sites so she will ask me about it. I sometimes have her try a posture, kind of a "posture-of-the-day" challenge. She has been able to do almost everyone I've given her. She'll never go to a class though. It would just not be an acceptable thing for her to do and she has a lot of other things that take up her time. I gave her my Swenson book to look over for a little while. Hopefully, she will try his short sequences some day at home and will like doing it. I've never yet been able to interest anyone in doing ashtanga. The few people I have ever been able to convince to come to a class with me never came back. I've pretty much given up trying to include other people. If anyone wants to come to a class, they know where they can find me.

Time to spell check and call it a night. These 5 AM wake-ups to get to pranayama are starting to have an effect. If I keep going, I'll have to get to bed a lot earlier.

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