26 May, 2012

Thus ends the Mitchell Sisters Marathon

Today was Power Vinyasa Boot Camp with Drill Sergeant C. L. Mitchell.

In all seriousness, Cassandra came to class today with Memorial Day on her mind, and a message about sacrifice that others make for us, and about getting outside of our own minds to experience gratitude for what we do have in this world: safety, freedom, health and, above all, the time to practice yoga together.

This was my tenth class in eight days. Every one of those classes was with either Cassandra or Jo. Normally, as I have mentioned in earlier entries, I make a conscious effort to spread my classes around the different instructors so that I am getting the different messages, the different styles, challenging my mind and body in different ways. But this week started off with the retreat in Port Townsend, and I felt this deep desire to keep that feeling going as long as possible. The schedule happened to work out perfectly to allow for a virtual extension of the retreat, and I figured I would take advantage of it.

The "cons" of taking all of your classes with the same person are actually very few, it turns out, because a good instructor is always evolving, even on a daily basis, and always finding new wrinkles to add to the class. They're learning from classes they've taken, things they've overheard (i.e. Let's go straight from Sun A warm-ups into 3 sets of Dolphin Plank alternating arm push-ups! Kathy would be proud!).

The "pros" of taking all of your classes with the same person are rather interesting. You get to experience the subtle nuances of your guide, on the timescale of life. Each day, they bring their day to class with them, in one way or another. Today, Cassandra was thinking about Memorial Day, and it came to class with her. Seeing these small shifts on a day-by-day basis really helps you realize that we are all constantly changing, constantly evolving, constantly moving. The world is never a static place. Our practice may move slowly on the scale of the kind of progress we normally think about, i.e. gaining new poses, working out the kinks of alignment in our body. But on a less conscious scale, the practice is never the same for long.

I am reminded of something that Whitney said awhile back about "tiny arrivals." We are not growing by revelation so much as imperceptible shifts, every time we show up. I like that.

Class today was light on the heat (probably only about 95 or so, my guess), and h-e-a-v-y on the upper-body strength. We did the Dolphin Planks, lots of Side Plank variations (which I had to modify, still), and flat-out, honest-to-goodness push-ups. No doubt, the class of about 30-40 people, all of whom delayed their long weekend to get in a Friday night yoga, were pushed to "the edge" today. It was simply impossible not to be at that edge. Interestingly, I think the slightly lower heat is what helped hit that edge. If it had been 105 in the room, it would have been a different story. Today, the battle was "Mind vs. Body" as opposed to "Mind vs. Heat" or "Heat vs. Body" that often occur (at least for me). I am not sure it was intentional, but it's a good variation.

I don't spend a lot of time thinking about "the troops." There's always been a resentment of war in me, and of the forces that send us there, that often results in me just blocking it out of my mind. I also, being the bleeding-heart liberal, tend to latch on to the stories we read in the news about the "bad apples" who go rogue in the military and kill innocent people, or don't hold high regard for the countries they are stationed in. This is what the media gives us, because it's what gets readership. Fuel the fire, sell copy.

But throughout recent history, in the absence of conscription ("The Draft"), military service has been largely performed by people who are looking for a way to a better life, better opportunities, education, and a future that holds more promise that what their life to that point has allowed. Of course, there are other examples, like career military families, where pride in service is a primary driver. But when we think about what people are doing to have a better life, they're really taking a huge risk, their lives, on the hopes of something better afterward. And looking back over history, so many have died; in this country, and in others around the world. And it continues.

As Cassandra said, when it gets too much in a yoga class, we've got "Child's Pose" as an option. That's not true for those who are in military service; they don't get to rest when they need to rest. It's important to remember, both on the mat and off the mat, how lucky we are that Child's Pose is always there for us.

Irrespective of your beliefs, that's something worth pondering on Memorial Day Weekend.

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