06 January, 2012

Coming out of your story

Power Vinyasa with Cassandra. Friday night "Music Intense" class.

Last minute meeting at work today leaves me on the 9th floor of my building, at South Lake Union, at 5:18pm. Class starts at 5:30pm.

No panic.

I run. In Dr. Martens. If you're curious, this is exactly 0.5 miles up Westlake, turning right on Stewart. But I happen to know that the clocks at Urban Yoga Spa are a little slow... probably for this very reason. For a moment, I think to myself that it's probably not a fantastic idea for me to be getting my heart rate way up before class even starts. But the thought dissipates quickly. I will be fine, because there is no panic.

I am ready on my mat with three minutes to spare (thanks to the PST+UYS time zone). Always looking very much forward to Cassandra's classes. She is an inspirational instructor. Regardless of the fact that this is a Power Vinyasa class, there will be time for meditation. There will be time for rest. There will be time for listening to her brief but so-insightful words, sprinkled throughout the class. And the workout will still be intense. To me it seems something of a magical ability to be able to find that balance of intensity and calm easiness. So it is special to be there for it.

Today, Cassandra points out that the "Power" in "Power Vinyasa" is not just about the intensity of the workout, but also about finding the power in ourselves through our yoga practice. And finding energy in the universe, even when we may feel fatigued.

My intention, once again today was "no panic." My mind tries to put me on the spot to come up with a special and unique intention or dedication for every day (which amounts to starting off each class with a unhealthy dose of judgment). But the variety that one wants to aim for in such things as a blog entry or a dinnertime conversation is not applicable on the yoga mat. For me, "no panic" is not a "flavor of the day." And, unless I find myself compelled to set another intention or, until the concept of panic is a distant memory, it seems like an appropriate "go-to" place.

Today's class was wonderful from the first moment to the very last. I feel like I am starting to hear things that maybe were being said all along, but I wasn't hearing them before. But I question myself. Were they said before? Two days in a row, the instructors have made the reference to the futility of trying to fight the sweat dripping. Did the instructors decide to talk about this all of a sudden? Was it some master plan? Or have they been saying this all along, but I wasn't listening because I was too caught in that thought ("I need to wipe the sweat off my face!!"). I honestly don't know.

Cassandra asked us, during Warrior I, to look up to the ceiling, through our hands, and find the posture without the mirror. To feel the floor with our feet. To feel the adjustments. To feel our heartbeat. To feel our breath. Today, I was ready to feel these things. And instead of freaking out about why I can't get my hips all the way around, or why my knee hurts and I can't go deeper, or why I can't keep my arms up straight because they're burning... today, I just tried to experience it:  bring hips around more... knee hurts... does going a little deeper make it better or worse? hm... better... interesting... look up through the arms, rather than wondering how much longer I can keep arms up... make sure the back leg is still straight... and... breathe.

I felt waves of lightness and joy. I did not feel much thirst. The temperature of the room did not matter. At several points during the class, I felt strong emotions triggered inside of me. The rests felt restful. And when the rests ended, I found myself able to immediately override that almost automatic "Oh, darn, the Child's Pose is over so quickly" and just go. That's one of the things that Cassandra always says that I really like (particularly in the middle of a set of Wheel poses): "Not a lot of thinking, just a lot of doing..."

It turns out, it does take a lot less energy to do than to think.

Today's Wheel pose was even a little better than yesterday. There's something about the way she had us go into the pose today. We started it as a Bridge, which I assumed was just going to be a Bridge. But she had us make a few adjustments, feeling our feet pressing into the floor, and then pulling our feet towards us on the mat, flexing our hamstrings, and then unexpectedly she said "Now go right into your Wheel from here" and I just went, and my arms were straighter than usual, and my back was arched more, and my head was way off the floor, and it felt almost springy.

Cassandra often talks about how fortunate we are just to be able to be there in that room, on that mat, in our practice. At some level, I am always at least subconsciously aware of the good fortune that I have in this life. But on some days, it really feels like I am Fortunate with a capital F.


  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?_r=1&ref=general&src=me&pagewanted=all

  2. Thanks for the comment. This is a good article, and something I think that everyone who practices should remember. It is far more important to exercise caution and listen to your own body, than to try to push through every pose, especially those poses that our bodies are not really yet ready to handle.

    This will make me think more about some of the poses that involve neck flexion, for sure.