Saturday, December 06, 2003

Yesterday was the end of two straight weeks of mysore practice for me. The only other time I've ever been able to practice every day, Sunday through Friday, for two weeks straight was when Guruji came to visit our area in 2000. Those were led classes, one week of the first half of first series, the second week of the whole first series. I've never had anything close to two weeks in a row of mysore style classes. Probably the best I've ever been able to do prior to this was maybe three days of mysore in a row. I had this run because I had taken off the time to attend classes with Guruji on his recent tour. That visit was cancelled about a month ago when his son-law suddenly died back home in India. Since I had the time off from work, I decided to keep it off and study with Tim. Unfortunately, Tim already had plans set up to go to Mysore, India to visit with Guruji. He left in the middle of my second week of classes, so I still got a lot of time with him.

After doing mostly led classes for the last three and a half years, all of a sudden doing mysore classes only has revealed some pluses and minuses. Going every day for two weeks straight has helped my endurance, at least I think it has. I'll have to go to a normal first series led class and see if it feels any different. As it stands now, when I do a mysore class, I do the normal first series and then the postures that I've been given so far in the second series. I have to move through those a bit faster than people might normally do them if they were just doing first series or just second series because I only have about two hours to complete it all. I think I mentioned before that doing the poses at a faster pace does make it easier in a way. Not having to hold every pose for as long, especially the more challenging ones, does save energy. Those energy savings are quickly used up in the extra poses though. Not being able to hold the poses for as long is also the drawback. Having a time barrier is an unfortunate distraction. There's lots of stuff I need to work on. The last thing that I need is an easy excuse, like, "hey, I better hurry up or I'll run out of time", to lead me to gloss over what needs attention. Not surprisingly, I'm a little more tired at the end of a mysore class than I am at the end of a led first series class. The postures that I'm learning in the second series are fairly demanding for me. By the time I get to them, I feel like the cup is empty sometimes. I definitely let my backbending fall off this past two weeks: "low on time, low in energy, I think I'll just do four back bends and skip the standing up attempt today" kind of thinking. That will get better, hopefully as I get more accustomed to doing this practice. Unfortunately, I'm now back in the real work-a-day world where mysore opportunities are sparse.

I've debated with myself for a while now about trying to jury-rig my daily schedule so that I can get to more mysore classes. Most of the mysore classes start at 7:00AM, so I would need to start work at 10:00 or 10:15 to be able to do it. Even if I could arrange my clinic days to allow that start time, it still wouldn't give me that many chances. A lot of my days are days where I'm in the operating room, which starts at 7:45AM, or on call, which starts at 8:00AM, or coming off of in-house over night call, where I don't get off until 8:00AM, an hour after class has started. It would be a fairly big hassle to switch my schedule around for only a couple of extra mysore classes each month. But, having had the chance to go as regularly has I have had these two weeks, I can't help wonder what I could do if I could go regularly. Once you get the chance to increase the frequency of practice, you then feel the need to go even more. The monster needs to be fed.

Before I started this two week bend-a-rama, I was expecting that when I got through it, I would have made advancements in lots of areas. Now that I've finished it, I'm not sure I can say that I'm any better at anything actually, except maybe endurance. I had hoped that I would make clear progress in my bandhas and my jump backs for one thing. In all honesty, I don't think I put that much energy into them during these two weeks. I did land Bakasana B from a float a few times, but never in a good enough position to hold it for more than a second or two. Hopefully I won't jinx myself in saying it, but I am getting a little better picture of what path my body needs to move in to be able to enter it that way. I used to either under shoot and land in a squat, or over shoot and end up cart wheeling across the room to avoid a face plant. Now I tend to mis-land it. I guess that's a kind of progress. I did make progress at the poses at the end. I had never before been able to keep my leg behind my head when I would press up to vinyasa out of eka pada sirsasana. As soon as I would start to lift up, my leg would slip and slide off, whacking me in the head in the process. I asked Tim to look me over and see if he had any suggestions. He watched me, then after a second or two of thought, said, "don't let your head and neck bend forward." "Oh, come on," I thought. "That's the best advice you have? Don't you think if it was that simple, I would have already thought of it?" So, next practice I showed him. I did just what he said. Naturally, my leg hasn't come off since. He must have been pleased enough at that that he gave me dwi pada sirsasana right before he left. More than anything else, that's what sucked for me about his leaving for India. I can't get my second foot back on my own. I can be put there readily. I can be put there fairly deeply actually. But I haven't yet figured out how to do it by myself. I was really looking forward to his help for a few practices so I could hopefully get to a point where I could do it on my own. While he was gone, I only had one other adjustment in that pose. The other times, they just let me wiggle and struggle on my own. I'd be happy to do that, but I was only good for a couple of attempts on my own before I would run out of gas. This is one pose that I sense that I'm going to have a harder time progressing with if I'm only doing it once or twice a month.

I wasn't the only one who decided to study with Tim when Guruji cancelled his tour. There were some crowded mornings. One morning, there was no space available for a couple of people who had come late. They had to go home. That would really, really suck. There was a whole mini-contingent of folks from Chicago. Some pretty good practices in there with all the new folks.

Well, enough for now. I'm at work. It's slow but there are some things that need to be done.