02 August, 2013

Ask yourself the right question

Today was Power Vinyasa with Scott Francis.

Last week I had the experience of class being too fast, as I discussed in an earlier blog entry. I spoke with Scott after class, and the only thing that came out of it for me was that perhaps I approach some things with a kind of rigidity of "This is how *I* do it" and then I resist the flow that is. In essence, that is the root of much of the suffering that I experience. How things *should* be. Scott had said something about letting the class move me, rather than me being in such control, and I had been unsure if that was a practical suggestion at the time. It's not that I disbelieved him. It's just that, at the end of a class the kicked my ass (or where I kicked my own ass) it was hard for me to be open to that possibility.

So, today I showed up with a different approach. I was ready for Scott's class, and intent upon letting the class move me. Whatever that turned out to mean. And as class progressed, I found that I was able this time to keep up, and to even enjoy the fluidity. Also, I noticed the things that bother me during class, and my reaction to them. The towel moving around. Why does that bother me? The sweat getting in my eyes to the point of blinding me, and making me feel like I might fall over. But why is that a problem?

And what I landed on today was a realization that I was asking the wrong question last week. I kept asking myself during class "Why is this so fast?" and, as you know, that devolved into "What's wrong with me?" and "Why can't I do this?" and "Why is it easy for everyone else?" All those usual questions that pop up for me, on and off the mat. There is "how it should be" and then "how it is" and I have had a hard time negotiating the gap.

Today, instead, the question I found myself asking "What can I do to make this work?" I was ready to take one of Scott's suggestions from last week, which had been to not worry about my breath following every move, if that was too fast. But it turned out this was not necessary. My movement and my breath were in sync. Because I learned that what I could do was move faster in certain parts of the flow. And I could do it without losing the integrity of the key shapes in the practice. The place where I was able to gain much time that I tend to lose was in transitions. Specifically, transitioning from a Warrior back to High Plank. I think I have always tended to drag ass going down to the mat, and before I even get there, a teacher may already be calling out Upward Dog. Or from the Halfway Lift, I found that when I do the jumpback, with care, I get there much faster than stepping one foot at a time. There was a time when that was not a good idea for my practice, and I still may not often do this. But in a very flowing class, where I am well-warmed up, it is something that is now in my practice.

The assumptions I had made were untrue. It was not too fast. I was just not focused enough to make quick and graceful movements between poses, at least not in some cases. I may not have the energy to do these transitions more quickly every day. But today I could.

Having that experience of changing my behavior instead of hoping someone else would change actually led to an entirely different experience in the class. Often I have found Scott's dreamy meditative tone to exacerbate anxiety I experience in the class. Because I was already triggered. But when I modified me, and made it work, I felt in harmony with the class. Suddenly, everything that Scott was saying was wonderful (though, surely, no different than much of what he says in other weeks - the difference was in me).

Perspective is everything.

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