Sunday, June 20, 2004

I've hit another lull. I just haven't felt that I had much to say lately. Not feeling especially creative. But, some new happenings provide reason to emerge from the fog. The annual teacher training that our teacher holds each summer is at hand, providing at least forty new people to practice amongst. We also had an innovative improv class yesterday that I enjoyed. And, for some reason, my wife has been bugging me to start blogging stuff. What's up with that? Plus, it's been over a month since I last posted. When I started to put in links to other Asthtanga blogs, some of them became dead blogs with no updates. I decided that if a linked blog was inactive for over a month, I was going to unlink it. I still haven't done that yet but plan to. So, I've violated my own minimal activity rule.

Our class yesterday started out with the teacher remonstrating us gently for not giving her much to work with when she asks us for suggestions of what we want to work on. The truth is that most of us are just too lazy to come up with god ideas. We'd rather that she do all the creative work in making each class fun, fresh, challenging and focused on just the things that we really need. It's waaay too much work to come up with ideas of how to do that on our own. I had just commented to the person on the mat next to me that we should suggest to her that she do something that we had never done before. I saw though, that that kind of sugestion was really just a vapid non-idea. So, I had a spur of the moment insight and asked if we could do some stuff from all four of the first four series. Then, to make it hard on her, I also suggested that we do at least three postures from each series. That was a little unfair to ask for somebody to come up with on the fly. She had to assess the class, some of which she had never seen before, and try to come up with postures from those series that were do-able but still challenging and fresh. She did a great job with it.

We started off with an exploration of the dark side. In good Iyengar fashion, we did our inversions early, right after the sun salutations. We first did three separate handstands, each lasting about a minute. All of them were supported in one fashion or another, either using the wall or using a partner while we worked on various muscle actions within the execution of the pose. It was hard to focus on the desired action though, as I was mainly trying to avoid having my shoulders give out. Plus the guy next to me was cracking jokes. I fell out of the pose once while we were against the wall when he made me start laughing. After hand stands, we did head stand and shoulder stand. We did some twisting to the side but only with the legs straight up. The room was too crowded to do the kinds of twisting variations in which one or both legs are lowered while you twist.

With out recapping the entire class, we ended up doing Arkana Dhanurasana and Marichyasana E and F from the 4th series, Dighasana, Eka Pada Bakasana, Hanumanasana and Viranchyasana A from the 3rd, Pincha Mayurasana, Parighasana and Gomukhasana A & B from the 2nd, from the first, I think the only poses we did were Baddha Konasana A & B. It was a fun class, it was different enough but not too much for most.

I decided to go to the Saturday pranayama class that comes right before that Improv class. The Saturday morning class is usually not as challenging as most of Tim's weekday classes. The Saturday class is meant to be a kind of introductory approach. We do all the same pranayama sequences but usually the lengths of the inhalations, exhalations and the retentions are not as long. Although I hadn't been to a pranayama class in quite a while, I expected to do okay. The teacher yesterday had me sweating though. As I said to her afterwards, I guess I'm out of shape, pranayama shape. I've noticed one downside to doing a pranayama class and then practicing right afterwards. When I get to Padmasana at the end of practice, I find that I often don't have the patience to do as good a job with the ujjayi breathing. It's like a subconscious 'I've already done this, I don't feel like it again'. Some of the pranayama classes have evolved to become pranayama /kirtan sessions with a shortened pranayama session followed by singing chants. I like that to a degree but since I rarely get to go to pranayama, I don't want to have it be regularly shortened to sing. That may be the blasphemous voice of inexperience and ignorance speaking but it's just what I'd prefer to be doing. I'd rather have a kirtan or two each week than have a truncated pranayama session so that we can do some chants too.

As I mentioned above, the summer crush is on. With all of the teacher training students, every class is going to be bursting at the seams. While it's great to see new faces and see how people do, it's also nice to have enough room to do your practice without having to focus on the person next to you to avoid whacking them or to avoid messing up what they are doing. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Tim normally does his own practice after everybody has left from the 7:00 Mysore class. When the TT course is going on, to help alleviate the crowded conditions, he lets people do their practice at 9:00 while he is doing his. It's not led or Mysore style. There's no adjusting, it's just self practice. But for me it's a gold mine. I gives me the chance to practice after I've been on call the night before. Normally, I can't get to a morning class because I don't get off until 8:00, so I have to go to the noon classes which are led prep classes or come to the evening classes. Those aren't bad classes, I like them, but I'm not getting to work on things that I most need to work on. Going to the morning class means I get the chance to do either the full Monty with all of my first and second series poses, or to focus on just the second series poses with any needed/desired research poses. Plus, I get the chance to work on Viparita Chakrasana, which I don't ever get unless I can get to a Mysore class,meaning once or twice a month.

I haven't decided what to do for class tomorrow morning. I'll have to see how call goes tonight. I haven't done a thing so far, except write a prescription, so I'm sure to get killed tonight. Too bad, I'm there tomorrow at nine.