Thursday, July 17, 2003

I was too tired to write yesterday evening. I did the evening led first series class with Tim. The room was very warm and humid. By the time I got to backbending, I just ran out of gas. That was disappointing because I really wanted to regain the ability to get up from backbend. I never got close. Worst of all, I got so tired while trying to get up on my last backbend that I ended up laying back down on my mat. By that time, everyone else had either gotten up on their own or had been helped up by Tim. He looked over at me lying down and figured I was just loafing it. The normal game is to stay in the last backbend until you get helped up, however long that takes. If you're someone who goes to class fairly regularly, going back down to the mat is grounds for mild verbal attention. "Hey, John! Why resting? You're the only one. Did you have a bad day at work?" I tried to mumble that I had exhausted myself legitimately trying to get up on my own, but it came out like I was just too weak to stay up. I went back into a backbend so that he could assist me up. He put his open hand on my chest to bring me up with pressure on my chest, but as he put it there, he curled his fingers at the top of my shirt and in my chest hair as if to give the impression he was going to pull me up by them. He didn't, of course. He just put his hand flat and pressed my chest back toward my legs to give me enough counter pressure to get up. But for a second there, when his fingers grasped my chest hair, I started to get ready to get up on my own before he could start yanking. I think it was an accidental thing, but ..., you never know. These old hands of guruji's, they probably know lots of unconventional ways to motivate people to do things they can do but don't believe they can do.

At the start of class yesterday, one of the people I know fairly well brought another person over and had them set up next to me. She told me the person was from Portugal and had never done full first series. She told the woman to look around the room and follow what everyone else was doing and she asked me to help her if she looked like she had trouble following. No problem. Glad to help. I chatted with the woman a bit before class, trying to sound out where her practice was. Very pleasant, practices as best she can, there's not many teachers where she lives, so she is worried she won't know what to do, yada yada. The woman rocked. She did everything and did most of them better than me (not saying much there but she looked good). About the only thing she didn't do was Sirsasana. Worst thing was, she hardly even sweated! And she was still able to do Garbha Pindasana. It boggles my mind how people can practice in a hot humid room for two hours and hardly break a sweat.

I guess Tim has started to add a kirtan element to some of his Thursday classes. A couple of weeks ago, he cut the Improv class short and broke out the squeezebox (harmonium) for some chants. Today in Pranayama, same thing. We did a very abbreviated pranayama, then we sang the chants while he played for us. We actually really kind of mumbled mostly. At 6:30 in the morning, most of us were still in introvert mode. Plus, even with a verse sheet in front of you (the chants are in sanskrit), there's usually a question of "how the hell is that one supposed to be pronounced" that inhibits you from really belting 'em out. Everyone else seemed eager to have an easy pranayama day. They go most very day. I've only been once in the last ten days so if I had my druthers, I would have rather done the full breathing. I'm not knocking it though. About the only time I've gotten exposed to things like kirtan have been at week long workshops or at formal kirtans by visiting artists like Krishna Das, Wah and Bhagavan Das.

I got done with work today around 3:30. All three cases went real smoothly, no untoward delays or problems. I got to Encinitas around 4:30. Not enough time to go home but too early for the studio to be open. Fortunately, as happened once before, someone was in the studio doing some clean up. I got the place to myself for about 40 minutes before class. I got a bunch of easy going stretches in, I was as ready to go as I can be. I even worked on the take it up and try to jump back aspect of my vinyasa. I figured out one thing I need to change, or at least I think it needs to be changed. I usually just cross my ankles and lift up then try and lean forward as best I can while I drag my feet as far back as I can. At my best, I had been able to get my feet back to just in front of my hands. When I was working with the blocks today, I found that if I placed the ankle of one leg as far up the shin of the other leg as I could, especially the lowest ankle, rather than just crossing my ankles, I was able to get the feet clear of the floor for longer. In class, I got them to the space between my hands but never got them thru. Little victories.

The room was a fraction cooler tonight. I felt less tight. It was just a better practice over all. I've felt really close on my Supta Kurmasana attempts yesterday and tonight. Still can't get that right ankle to slide up and over the left. On the flip side, I didn't do any better tonight on my backbending and coming up than I did yesterday. I was tired but not as whipped as I felt yesterday. I tried on the last one but just couldn't pull it off. It's easier for me to do in mysore because I can take as much time as I need to position and reposition various body parts, go thru mental checklists, do practice runs, etc. before actually trying to come up for real. In a led class, I've got the teacher's five count to get it done. It's probably enough time, but it takes my mind off of the doing and directs it to the count. Lame excuses. I've just lost it. I'll get it back. I was just hoping to be able to keep doing it once I did it for the first time.

I worked a fair amount on my handstanding with JMS after class. His advice and demonstrations of what I'm doing and how he does it are helping, but I'm improving at a very gradual pace.

No asana practice for a while. Maybe on Sunday afternoon but not holding my breath. I set up a round of golf that morning with one of the guys I work with and his brother, an avid golfer who is visiting him. Since I'll be recreationally otherwise occupied most of the morning, getting even more time later that day to do yoga will be hard to defend

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