15 March, 2012

Eyes wide open

Today was 75 minutes of Power Vinyasa with Gordy.

This week, I decided not to hold back at all. If' it's going to be a Vinyasa-filled week, then that's what it's going to be. Prior to today, I had not taken a "regular" Gordy class. I'd only done a couple of his "Fundamentals" classes, and some of the special theme classes that were co-taught by Gordy and Kathy. So this was a first, of sorts.

At the start of class, Gordy made a suggestion to everyone in class: "Keep your eyes open the entire class." This referred not only to the poses, but also to the rests between poses. The idea, he said, was to see if we experienced anything different, and see if it makes us feel more present.

The class today featured two unusual, and relatively challenging sequences. The first was a modified version of Sun Salutation B (with Warrior II added). He had us flow through an entire 5 minute song, with Kathy and Heidi as our "tempo guides" for the sequence. I had never done a flow sequence before that was based around time, rather than based around a number of repetitions. I honestly have no clue how many time we went through the entire sequence, but it seemed to be maybe 7 or 8 times. In some other classes, I have found that I had an expectation of the sequence being repeated maybe 2 or 3 times. And, when it goes a fourth time, I would become impatient. So, it was a little intriguing to me that I didn't have much difficulty keeping up with this longer sequence. Again, I think it has to do with expectations.

The next interesting series was a full song worth of long Plank holds. We would hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then come to the mat for about 30 seconds rest, and then back up again. In total, there were about 5 of 6 of these repetitions. Plank holds are certainly physical, but I suspect that the limiting factor in these long holds is the mental one. There's a voice that gets louder and louder as the pose progresses, and the general tone of that voice is "I don't want to keep doing this!" So, as I have mentioned before, this is definitely a place where the expression "The pose begins when you want it to end" applies.

Gordy also talked at the beginning of class today about how we are driven by our achievements and successes in life. He came back to this point after we got through those two tough series. He asked if any of us surprised ourselves at how we were able to perform those series. And he asked whether any of us felt like this was a kind of a success or achievement. For myself, I can definitely say "yes" to that question. I wouldn't have thought that I could flow for 5 minutes straight, and stay on pace with Kathy and Heidi, who are both much more experienced than I am. But I just kept my eyes on them (they happened to be diagonally in front of me, in my view) and stayed locked in sequence with them. There was no time to get caught in the "I don't want to do this" mindset, because all of my physical energy was focused on the sequence, and all of my mental energy was focused on synchronization with the pacesetters. This is interesting to me, especially, because the teachers often talk about keeping the focus completely in the pose, on the breath, in the moment. Having the pacesetter to follow actually made it much easier. It's almost like our minds do best when they are cognitively loaded in such fashion so as to disallow random thoughts to creep in. I almost wonder if I would benefit from doing weird exercises like counting backwards from 100 when doing poses that are particularly difficult.

For me, the biggest success was making it through a Gordy class. In the past week, I have really been trying to charge right at the things that I have been afraid of, or avoiding.

So this feels pretty good.

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