24 January, 2012

Just in case it started to feel too easy...

There is Power Vinyasa with Whitney.

Whitney's been away for a while, traveling. I remembered her classes as being sort of the perfect balance between intensity, encouragement, rest, and gentle coaching. If you've taken one of her classes, you know that she's got that dreamy almost entrancing voice that lulls you... "Take a looooong breath in.... Sweeeeet breath out..." It makes you feel like there is no chaos, even when your muscles are burning, and sweat is stinging your eyes, and you don't know if you can hold that pose for one more breath, let alone ten more breaths.

Well, after being away from Urban Yoga Spa for some time, Whitney seemed ready to bring us on a very intense journey. This class was very crowded, surely a combination of the near-end-of-month for the yoga challenge, but also the additional factor of people really wanting to take a "Whitney Class" after missing her. A testament to what a great instructor she is: there were three other instructors who took her class today. Sort of the ultimate compliment. It's like being a chef's chef, so to speak.

The class had a lot of everything, and not a lot of rest. Tons of Chair. Tons of Plank. A crazy-hard Crescent Lunge series, when we were already fairly well toasted from the first 30 minutes. Whitney did some interesting mixing up of sequences, sprinkling in difficult parts even pretty late in the class, with the culmination being two rounds of ten breaths in Dolphin Plank (yes, ten breaths).

As for me... well... I did the best that I could.

I arrived very early to secure a spot. Upon entering the room, just after the 4pm class had ended, I was greeted with a sweltering wall of moist heat. The thermometer "only" read 102 degrees, but I'd be surprised if the humidity wasn't up around 65% from the crowded class.

So, I knew from the start this was going to be... interesting. Even completely fresh, it felt like there wasn't a whole lot of oxygen in the air that we had to breathe. Telling myself "That which does not kill me..." and almost believing it to be true.

Five minutes into class, the sweat was streaming, in Downward Dog, just pouring off my face and head onto the towel. My goal was to 1) Do all the poses, 2) Not freak out, and 3) Try not to think ahead. I'm sure I'm being hard on myself, feeling like there were a couple of places where I could have done better. But I actually did pretty well. The cadence of the class was such that we actually didn't get a "prescribed" water break until the end of the standing series, and I made it all the way through to that point. I also made it through those monster Dolphin Planks by just saying to myself, "Just do it." As cheesy as it sounds, the initial thought in my head is "How can I justify that I can't do this, so that I can not do it?" but it was not a whole lot harder to just shunt that process, and do it.

When we got to the floor, I started having my resentment about the heat creeping in. I chose not to resist that urge to create drama, as Cassandra would say. And the drama really makes it a dreadful experience. My breathing became more labored, surely wasting energy, and less efficient. Thoughts were screaming in my head "OPEN THE DOOR!!! OPEN IT!! WHY WON'T SHE OPEN THE DOOR????!!!!" And when she opened it for a few moments, and then closed it, the thoughts again screaming "WHY IS SHE CLOSING THE DOOR??!!! WHAT IS SHE DOING???!!! WHITNEY!!!!! OPEN!!! THE!!! DOOR!!!" And all this certainly did make what would have otherwise been rather trivial poses like Pigeon, Supine Twist, Bridge into some sort of exercise in self-torture.

But... I did the whole class. And I did keep breathing. And I did keep doing the poses.

And when I got out of the room, unlike some of my stories from a month ago, I did not experience crushing pains in my chest, and a feeling of weakness, or wooziness, or panic like I may not actually be okay. What I experienced was a rather peaceful, sedate, satisfied exhaustion. And, while it was not the "walk in the park" that yesterday's class was, there's a place for both experiences. I wouldn't want my yoga practice to always be struggle and pushing up against my limits. But I also would not want it to never be a struggle or pushing up against my limits.

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