Yesterday I got done with the OR early enough to make it to Tim's evening Intro class. I could have instead gone to an evening mysore class at a different studio that's near where I work but the place has a carpet that I find overly cushiony. When I practice there, my wrists really get sore. Plus, it makes sense to minimize, where I can, the hodgepodge-ityness of going to different places and following different teachers. I do like variety and I do like see how other people lead a class but it's a waste of a huge opportunity to pass up studying with Tim. That's one reason why I decided to try and make it to more pranayama classes with him, even if I do suck at it. Not many teachers make pranayama available to students and of those that do offer it to students, very few learned their pranayama directly from Pattabhi Jois.
When I go to the Intro class, I usually start to wonder if I'm not entering the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. I don't seem to ever retain a lot of what he covers. I have probably heard him discuss the early sutras dozens of times, yet it unfortunately always seems to new to me. Every time I try to reinforce what is covered in class by reading something on the sutras or hindu philosophy, I fall asleep. I think my learning days are over. The memory banks were so abused by the excesses of med school and residency that they became permanently disabled and will no longer allow any further information to be absorbed.
I was going to get my hair cut before class yesterday but the place that is around the corner from Tim's didn't have any spots for drop ins. That left me with a little more than an hour to burn before class so I window shopped around the neighborhood for a while. I can only take so much of that so I wandered over to the yoga studio and fortunately it was open. They were doing some refurbishing and spiffing up to get ready for the teacher training course next week. They were just finishing up so I was able to throw down my mat and do some stretching out for a while. I tried some work on using blocks to get better at jump backs. It didn't help much. No reason to expect that it would when I only do it once every month or so. The Intro class itself went well, I didn't seem too sore or stiff. Sometimes I do have a problem with tightness in that class. I still get a sweat going but, because the pace is slower and there's a lower intensity than in a typical class, I often don't get real loose there. Maybe the long stretch out before class helped in that respect.
Tim gives a lot of verbal instruction in that class. He makes a point of looking at people throughout the room as he does so. When he is looking you in the eye as he is making some point about technique, it's hard to tell if he is just looking at you by chance at that time or if he is trying to make sure that you understand that he is making this point for you specifically to do something that you haven't been doing. There's been several times when he was talking the class thru the jump back from a seated pose that he would turn and look at me as he told us what we should be doing physically to make the vinyasa. It's like he's saying, "I'm normally not going to tell you what you need to do, that's something you need to work out, but here's your chance to hear it disguised as a group instruction." That or I have a fertile and egocentric imagination.
I had to be at work today at eight so I went to pranayama at six. No asana practice, I'm on for 24 hours. The breathing today went better (less bad?) than last week. Not good but not abysmal. I was doing okay thru the ujjayi breath portion. But, when we got to the part where we do a retention after both the inhale and the exhale, for some reason, during the exhale retentions I started thinking about how people feel if they are deep under water, trying to make their way to the surface and they realize that they probably can't make it. That didn't help. I think if I can improve my inhalations, a lot of the rest of it will fall into place. When I don't get a good even inhale, if I feel full too soon, if I start tensing my body trying to get a deeper lung full, it's the first domino going down that leads to me taking an extra breath. My knees weren't as sore from sitting in padmasana as they were last week. I was able to walk with out any gimpiness right away. The calm that you often get from asana practice is there after pranayama too. It's a nice way to get thru traffic on the way to work.
Speaking of traffic, I've got to find one of those on line traffic school things so I can get that ticket off of my record. Tons o' fun.