09 September, 2012

Late-night power

Today was Power Vinyasa home practice.

After the travel, and the days of sleep deprivation, I found myself getting out of bed at 12:45pm. I can rationalize that it was only 9:45am on my internal clock, but that still qualifies as "sleeping damn late." I missed both of the morning class options that were available to me, which was not really a surprise, but it meant that I would be practicing at home again. As the day wore on, a headache developed, which was, no doubt, the result of too much sleep and not enough caffeine. It was quite resistant to medication, too, which sucked. So I found myself delaying the yoga, and delaying the yoga, and delaying the yoga. All the while, I was fully aware that there was an absolute limit beyond which I could no longer delay, unless I wanted to (technically) not get a class in on September 9th. Of course, I could rationalize that I was still on West Coast time, and buy myself 3 more hours, but it's kind of ridiculous to be doing yoga in the middle of the night anyway.

At 11pm, the headache had finally subsided, and the awareness that I was delaying at my own expense led me to get my act in gear. For some reason, Vinyasa was calling out to me. The monotony of two days of fairly scripted Hatha, alone at home, felt a bit much to stomach. I did a pretty standard Baptiste flow, though I added a few little variations to the sequence, to make things interesting. The "highlight" of the "class" was a sequence that I am pretty sure I had never seen in any class before. About 40 minutes into the sequence, I did a standing balance series that went as follows, in one continuous flow, without setting down the lifted leg:

  1. Eagle Pose
  2. Sleeping Eagle
  3. Airplane with Eagle arms
  4. Sweep arms back to full Airplane
  5. From Airplane, bend the raised leg, grab inside of foot with one hand and begin to kick, reaching the other arm forward into Dancer's Pose
  6. Pull up to standing from Dancer's and, without dropping the leg, swing arms back into Eagle
  7. Rewrap legs, and squat down one more time in Eagle
  8. Release

It's a cool sequence. Not as difficult as it sounds to go from Airplane to Dancer's.

The thing I like about a home practice is that I find myself wanting to push a little harder, keeping it honest, so that I don't feel like I am just checking off a calendar block. When there's no instructor, the only one there to ensure that I work is me. And that's sort of how much of life is. Of course, I say that as I am sitting in a Starbucks writing this blog instead of doing my work (how does that relate to the "How you do anything is how you do everything" mantra).

The hardest part for me about home practice is the desire to look at my iPhone if it buzzes. There may be a text I want to read, or a Facebook post, or an email, or a Scrabble move. All these distractions that are pulling at me all day, every day. Is it about staying connected to the world? Or is about avoiding what is right in front of me? It would be so simple to just put the phone in the other room for 1 hour, and know that I could look at it right after class. But I grant myself that distraction, rationalizing that I'll just make sure I focus on my breathing, and that will be yoga. I limited myself to peeking at the phone only during the 2 scheduled brief rests, which I will call a "moral victory" though still a bit of a cheat.

In the starting Child's Pose, I actually had to say to myself, "If you just go through the poses, while your mind is off somewhere else, that is not yoga." But then I found myself following that up with "But don't beat yourself up over it, and berate yourself." There's a middle road of observing, but accepting. Trying, but not struggling. The other day in class, Elizabeth said during our final Savasana, "Don't fight to be empty. Fight to be present." And that is profound, because the reality is that we cannot completely control where our minds go. But we do have the capacity to always observe where our minds have gone, without latching on to any of it."

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