09 January, 2012

Wherever you go... there you are

Today was Bikram yoga with Shawn.

Bikram Yoga Kona is apparently the only hot yoga studio on the Big Island of Hawaii. This is where I would say that my "practice" officially started back in September. The studio is run by Mark Hough (from whom I took a class on my last visit to Hawaii). I have also taken a class with his daughter Rachel (during that visit). That trip was my introduction to Bikram, and it made enough of an impression that I decided hot yoga, though not explicitly Bikram, was something I wanted to pursue when I arrived back on the mainland, as I have mentioned earlier. 

BYK is nowhere near as posh as Urban Yoga Spa, in my hometown of Seattle. But it's distinctly Hawaiian, and has a friendly, family-run vibe to it.

Because I have now been practicing yoga almost every day for three months, I had expected to walk into the studio today and have an easy time.

Wrong, of course. If it were not bad form to do so, I would probably add an emoticon smiling face, since it seems that getting the opposite of what I expect is about par for the course when it comes to such experiences. 

Today was an 8am class, on our first full day on the island. Hot yoga is hot yoga, but there's a bit more humidity in Hawaii than in Seattle. 

The class was reasonably crowded, and I spent the first 10 minutes or so feeling angry and resentful that someone in the row in front of me was blocking my view of the mirror. They could have easily moved a step to the right, but I could not move step to the left due to arrangement in the room. It was making it hard for me to concentrate, but I also was realizing that this is just another distraction, another thing to either okay with and focus on the poses, or to obsess over and be suffering more than I need to be, through my own thoughts. After brief disgruntlement, I got over it. And, as it turned out, he took a step to the right, and then eventually he spent the majority of the class in Savasana. Question I have for myself is whether I can learn to be almost instantly "ok" with something like this, or if I really want to experience the resentment? 

Shawn is very good at calling out every subtle detail of the correct form of the poses. She's not low-key, and she's not subtle, and she was good at giving everyone in the class some individual call-outs of commendation, as well as adjustments. 

She has a very motivational style to her teaching. She makes you want to find that little bit extra on some tough poses like Backward Bends or Standing Head-to-Knee. But, because she was encouraging us to find new depths, I think I also found myself feeling a bit more tired than expected about halfway through the standing sequence. And one thing that is both good and bad about Bikram is that you know exactly what is coming next. This is valuable and tough on a few different levels. I found that knowing what was coming next meant that I was drifting into my head and thinking "We still have Tree... We still have Triangle... We still have Pyramid... We still have Standing Bow..." Of course, this is exactly what one wants to avoid doing, because that immediately causes the energy drain of overthinking. And in some ways, this is also what makes it good. I realized, at some point during today's class (though I think it didn't happen until back strengthening, perhaps Locust?) that I had better get my head back on this very pose because it's going to be utter hell if I am counting the poses ("Still have Floor Bow... Still have Camel... Still have Hero's Pose... Still have Rabbit... Still have Pigeon -- oops, wait -- no -- Pigeon is not part of the Bikram series")

Positives for today's class: got the right foot wrapped on the Eagle again. Camel is becoming second-nature, whereas it used to be a pose I dreaded. Standing Head-to-Knee I found I can actually do better when it's offered up as "not optional" to get my hands under my foot, and work toward extending the leg. In Hatha class, I tend to go very conservative and take the simpler modification of just standing upright with the knee raised. I usually tell myself it's because I am not exhibiting enough stability to warrant going further. But today, I saw that I actually can go further in it. So it's a lesson learned.

Negatives for today's class: I was way too much in my head, obsessing over how long the class seemed, and how much longer it had to go. I drank way more water, though I was probably legitimately thirsty, being first thing in the morning. Standing Bow, I was falling all over the place, and I suspect it is because my head was not in the game. 

Tonight, my low back is a little tired. It's a combination of perhaps going a little deeper in back bends than I should have, plus spending a fair amount of time snorkeling today (which is my favorite pastime, and one of the few ways that I have found of easily getting completely into this very moment).

I love the idea that I can go 3000 miles, to a different studio, different instructors, different mat, different towel, but it's still my practice. It's inside me. And I will take it wherever I go. And the struggles will be the same.

Tomorrow I will have to remember to set my intention on my own, since that's apparently not an explicit part of the Bikram sequence. 

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