Saturday, March 06, 2004

So, another three or four weeks have sneaked by. At least I'm still practicing, when and where possible. Mostly, it has been one first series class or another. I have had three or four mysore classes and last night I went to the Intro to Second Series class. The usual potpourri.

My son did well after his surgery. I was expecting him to have a lot of post-operative discomfort. I remember how much it hurt him when he had tubes put in his ears a few years ago. He never had any discomfort after this procedure though. The hardest thing has been keeping him from doing stuff, like recess, playing soccer and just normal roughhousing. I can just see him running into something or getting whacked by a ball and having his ear seperate along the suture line. He's done well though, so we got clearance for him to go back to soccer if he wears some kind of ear pad.

We've been getting kind of jealous of everybody we know going to Mysore to study with Guruji. We're exploring the possibility of going but it's really easy to find reasons not to. First and foremost is the kids. Take them, or not? It's five or six thousand more dollars if we do. Plus, they are not the most adaptive of kids. I have hard time seeing them finding a diet to their liking in Mysore. How long could we be in Mysore with kids before they went stir crazy and made it impossible to stay longer? For that matter, how long could we go for if we didn't take the kids? We could leave them with my wife's sister for a while, or send them off to summer camps of various sorts (another several thousand dollars), but it's not like we really want to be away from them for very long. I would favor taking the kids. At some point, they need to get some insight about life in the real world (so do I). They also need to be edged out of their personal comfort zones. If I were going to go, I would want to be there for as long as possible, two or three months at least. Financially, and work-wise, that would be very difficult to pull off. My wife does not seem too interested in going for a stay that long. I question the rationality of spending so much money if we are only going to be there for three weeks. Hard question to answer. My wife does need to go to India at some point soon to return her father's ashes to the Ganges. Unfortunately, that is on the other side of the country from Mysore, so that would take that much more time out of any trip that we could take. Could we justify going to India and really only spend time in Mysore? What value would that have for our kids? There's just so much more for them to learn about the country and its history. So, we dither on, doing nothing except thinking about doing something.

It's been a different feel lately at our studio with so many of the more senior people gone for one reason or another. Of the four or five people that I can think of that regularly do third series or beyond, all but one are in Mysore or are out of town for several months. I don't know if it seems different to anyone else or not. Not having that top end there just seems to have subtracted something. There's tons of folks doing second series and first series. But the big kids are all away on a field trip it seems like.

That whole thing about second series sort of gets my wife's craw. Traditionally, you are given poses as the teacher tells you that you are ready for them. In our area, most folks just pick up the first series poses by going to led classes. The allocation of postures really doesn't occur, for the most part, until second series. Also, to get postures, by definition you have to be going to mysore classes. I wasn't given any poses in the second series until I had been going to classes for about two and a half years. I didn't get to that many mysore classes and it took me at least that long to develop any facility with the first series. I have gradually gotten postures over the next year and a half. My wife has followed a similar but more accelerated progression. She goes to mysore classes pretty much every day. What bugs her are that a lot of people decide that they are just going to do seond series poses. They don't wait until Tim says to them, "Now, you do pashasana" They just start doing them because they feel like they are ready or that they want to. So, she'll be stuck at a pose for several months, grinding away and will look around the studio and see a handful of folks who can't get their foot behind their head or who can barely grab their toe in kapotasana yet who will be in there doing the whole second series. For some reason this bugs her. I think it bugs her more that it doesn't bug me. If they want to rely on Tim for guidance, like we have done, well, that is the way that he was taught and that is how he teaches. But, if they choose to make their own path, choosing to use his studio as a place to practice and to use him to help them get into postures that they can't get into on their own, he gives them the rope to do so. If someone is clearly out of their league in what they are trying, he will generally gently encourage them to back off. He doesn't usually let people go off doing third series, but not too many people try to pull that one off on their own. In general, I couldn't care less what somebody else does for their practice. It doesn't affect me, it only affects them. It only bugs me if they are distracting others or making Tim look bad.

I have started to get a slightly better range of motion in my back bending. The last couple of kapotasanas, I have gotten myself to my big toes and the teachers have pulled me into where I can grab my feet just past my big toes. My backbends are better and I have stood up each time lately, though with typical gracelessness. A class or two ago, after going back and putting my hands on the floor in the last assisted drop back, Tim told me to put my head down on the floor between my hands. Then he had me move my hands back past my head and put my forearms on the ground. He then told me to push up into backbend. "I can't..." was out of my mouth before I even tried. I got my arms to about 25-50% of the way extended then collapsed back down. I don't know if I could do more or not, I just wasn't mentally ready to find out. As it was, I was dizzy when I got up to my feet. I'll have to give a few more goes. Little progressions work better sometimes. But, sometimes you need to be shown that leaps and bounds are possible.

I've gotten my ankles crossed the last several attempts at Supta Kurmasana. In my last class, I even was able to grasp something other than my finger tips, I got hold of one palm. I still can't intuit what I need to do to hold the balance in Dwi Pada Sirsasana. This is one of the poses that people almost always get an adjustment in, usually because we suck at it so badly. When I am put into it, I can hold the feet in position reasonably well, though my head does begin to graually tip forward from the pressure of the feet/shins. I can't balance though. I usualy tip forward. Once that happens, my feet release and slide off of my neck. This last time, I tried to err in the other direction by leaning back to counter the forward tendency and... I fell backwards. Over and over again. Tim kept bouncing me back up but I never found it. I don't think it's so much how deeply a person is in the pose. Some people who do this are pretty scrunched up and bent forward, yet they can hold the balance. More reps, more reps.

Tomorrow, Sunday led first series. I work tonight and have eaten junk all day. We'll see how it goes. I just want to maintain an even keel with my energy and do better on back bends.

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