27 May, 2012

Grasping at the moment

Today was 75 (90) minutes of (Hatha +) Power Vinyasa with Gordy.

One day of rest, after my 8 day mini-yogalympics, but I felt like I was well-rested. In spite of spending most of the night feeling dehydrated, I arrived on my mat with what seemed like a spring in my step. During our opening warm-ups, we were doing some sort of Downward Dog thing where we had to walk our hands slightly back toward our feet, and then lift up one leg, and bend at the knee. This is a pretty standard opening move, except for the walking the hands back part. For some reason, this reminded me of Ginger's class, where she has us walk back into Standing Splits from Downward Dog. I was feeling fresh, and decided to take it that little bit further, walking my hands all the way back to feet and going into a modified Standing Splits, then Half Moon, with the knee bent on the raised leg, hips slightly stacked. I don't know what possessed me to do it, but it felt good.

However, the energy I had at the start of the class did not last me the full 75 (90) minutes.

Gordy had some very interesting, unique ideas for today's class. Essentially, the first third of the class was a good chunk of what one would normally do in a Hatha class. A series of standing poses, without much in the way of flowing. We saw Dancer's Pose, Eagle, modified Standing Head-to-Knee, modified Hatha Chair series (imagine transitioning from the first phase of Chair series into the raised up on tiptoes, but starting at the deepest point in your Chair, rather than coming up out of it first).

We did not do our first true Chaturanga until probably close to 40 minutes into the class. But then, rest assured, we flowed. As we often do in Gordy's classes, we had about 5-6 solid minutes of flow, with a challenging sequence:  Warrior I, Warrior II, Crescent Lunge, Warrior I, Warrior II, Reach, Reverse, Flow. In the 5-6 minutes, I think I probably went through about 8 repetitions of that flow. And I was not in lock-step with the "pace car," who had probably carried the class through about 11-12 of them. The tricky transition in there is the Warrior II to Crescent Lunge, because it is not something we're used to doing.

There were a series of Plank holds, of course. A series of Side Planks, with the usual Belly-of-the-Best and Wild Thing transitions added (all modified, in my case, to Side Planks with one knee down, and top leg raised).

At the point where we were all pretty much spent, and it felt like we'd been easily going for 75 minutes (we had!) there was still Warrior II with Side Angle. Side Angle is one of those poses that can be a somewhat joyful deep stretch, when you're fresh, or a rather grueling, quadricep and glute-burning ordeal, when your legs have already endured over an hour of standing balance work.

We finally made it to the mat (at around the 75 minute mark, one would assume), and finished up with some Locust, Floor Bow, Pigeon (I skipped) and, of course, a few sets of Wheel.

Today, my mind struggled mightily. I felt so strong at the beginning, but the heat and the extreme leg workout really took its toll, and by the halfway point in class, it was a battle of Mind vs. Everything. I was able to smile at the challenge and, other than briefly longing for the door to be open more than it was, I didn't find myself spiraling out of control with respect to the surroundings. But I found myself battling random thoughts that had nothing to do with "The Moment." Thinking about work, here and there. Thinking about what was coming next. Wondering when we'd be done. Wondering how much longer I could stand it. But also realizing that the wondering (not "The Moment") was actually far worse than the actual being, yet still I kept on wondering. Why?

When we neared the final Savasana, during the last few stretching poses, I actually found myself skimming the edge of a full-on panic. Suddenly, the thoughts of the heat in the room, and my desire to "be done" got mixed together with thoughts about some work I needed to accomplish today, and how much I did not want to do that work. And the panic stemmed from this feeling that I was not going to be able to make myself do that work. I was afraid I was going to freak out, and not get it done, and resented the fact that I even had to do it in the first place!

I had to consciously replace that thought with "Breathe... this breath... and this breath... and this breath... and this breath..." Planting this substitute for the chaos spinning in my mind. It was still "thought," but it was at least thought that was bringing me back to the moment, instead of pulling me further away.

Today there was a lot on my mind outside of yoga. And I am curious as to how much those looming thoughts, like wolves outside the fence, affected focus during practice. Did my panic ensue because of the physical experience in the poses? Or was I simply more vulnerable to the cracks in the fence that let those wolves come charging in, howling their distractions, and breaking my resolve? I think I know the answer to that, and I'm not thrilled with it. But I also recognize that I am not impervious, nor should I expect myself to be.

It can take years to do certain poses. And we seem to have an intuitive okay-ness about the fact that we can't all do arm balances from day one. But it seems it might take as many, or more years to do the "pose" of quieting the mind, and we seem to have an intuitive not-okay-ness about the fact that changing the shape of our mind is even more difficult than changing the shape of our body.

The tangible seems so much easier to grasp than the intangible.

Funny how that works.

No comments:

Post a Comment