02 January, 2012

Practice starts with breakfast

Today was Hatha with Bret.

I am fighting a cold. As a result, I've been taking various cold medicines. Have not really had much of an appetite. Today, if I recall correctly, all I ate was the equivalent of two or three pieces of bread. And that was during the entire day. I thought I'd hydrated enough, and I didn't feel hungry. And Hatha is typically not that intense. So I figured I'd be fine.


About ten minutes into class, I was already starting to feel fatigue. Just lifting my arms felt difficult. I felt like my muscles were exhausted, almost as if I'd already done some really intense workout. Of course, now that I think of it, I did start the class with a quick series of push-ups (often, I start a Hatha class that way, just to add a little bit of an upper-body workout). But normally, that doesn't affect me at all. Today was different. The balance poses were far more difficult than usual. Halfway through the standing series, I was feeling dizzy, weak, light-headed. I know that it's alright to just lay down and rest, but I wanted to try to back off the intensity, and just stay with it.

There were a couple of highlights for me in today's class, in spite of the constant struggle. For the first time ever, I was able to completely wrap my right foot behind my left leg on Eagle pose. Until today, it has always been that I can wrap the left foot behind right leg, but not even close on the other side. This is a fairly consistent asymmetry that I have between my left and right sides. My right leg is much stronger and more stable on balance poses than my left. But, conversely, my right hip and knee are much less flexible. So it felt like a pretty major milestone to get the foot wrapped. I can't help but wonder if yesterday's Yin class contributed to this new ability.

Another highlight was that the guidance Patrick gave in yesterday's class about how to get into Warrior II made it easier for me to do it today. Two days in a row now, I have been pretty comfortable in my (bad) knees, and both days was able to do full extension of my bottom arm during extended side-angle, rather than resting the elbow on the knee. I have even taken a full bind both days, which is something I have only recently started attempting in my practice.

Mercifully, I made it to the floor, but I never really felt better. The weakness and exhaustion probably triggered a little bit of that panic, and it also dissolved into a bit of queasy nauseous feeling. Not sure if I did the right thing by trying to make it through the class. It's a tough call. I want to not let my mind defeat me, but there is a line where it's just the body not being up to it. Given that I didn't get sick, and I didn't collapse, I guess I made an alright choice.

As usual, Bret provided many opportunities for unique variations in the poses and in the series. On most days, I will try to partake of as much of this as I can. Today, I was forced to accept that I wasn't up for the "bonus poses" and just take it easy. Bret also does a great job of keeping the practice light, and reminding us to smile, and to make the practice our own, and keep the energy flowing with little things like wiggling the fingers or the toes. Today, it was especially helpful having that lightness brought into the fold, because it would have been really easy to take things too seriously the way I was feeling.

Today's lesson is that "showing up for my practice" is not just about getting in the room, and on the mat. It's about everything I do, whether it be hydration, food, sleep. Today I did not provide myself the energy that I needed to feel well. I will cut myself slack that it's hard to judge hunger when one has a cold. But it should have been pretty obvious that I needed more nutrition today than I got.

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