Day 58: Softening

July 28, 2008

Bikram Yoga has a reputation for being “tough.” It’s often described as brutal, the Torture Chamber of yoga. It is. It’s hot, it’s hard. That’s all very true. But what I was reminded of earlier today as I read Sean’s reply to yesterday’s post is that it’s not all about the hard. It’s not always about locking, kicking, pushing, and tightening. Yoga is about union, balance, and the equal and simultaneous contradictions of movement in life.

Today as I went to class I focused on the opposites. I focused on letting go instead of holding tighter. I worked to soften myself. It was a tremendous experiment and I found some amazing things in my body. This is only further adding to my journey of letting go. I held Triangle without the usual strain, I kicked my leg up farther in Standing Bow, and experienced a deeper Camel. All the while, I felt a softening of my body, and of my mind. When my body said to stop, I stopped. When my body wanted more, I gave it more. And in that softening, I had a deeper class than usual. It seems silly to have to tell yourself to listen to your body. It seems that I should know this, being the yogini that I am. But even I need reminders.

Sean finished his comment with this.

Every now and then, you gotta bend that knee. God put it there for a reason

I am sure he knows the implication of this for me. Bikram Yoga constantly demands that we “Lock the KNEE!” Again and again, over and over. LOCK IT LOCK IT LOCK IT! This very well may be the most common command in the entire series. However, Sean is right. Every now and then, I have to bed, soften, become malleable. Not just in my knee. The knee becomes the metaphor for me. In the room, on the mat, I lock it. I push, I work, I LOCK MY KNEE!! But there are times when I let it go and take the fall. Even on the mat. If I am kicking up in Standing Bow and my standing leg buckles, I take the fall. The fall is the result of the softening. And often I am tempted to view the falling out as the “consequence” of not following direction. However, the fall is just as important as the kick. The fall teaches me limits, balance, and where and how I need to work harder. The fall reminds me that Yoga is a practice, not a destination.

I appreciate these kinds of lessons. There is a time to lock our knee, and a time to bend it. There is a time to soften, to listen, to wait, and to let things go. I feel better tonight. Today I was able to observe the next six or so weeks with a different mindset. A softer focus. Maybe that alone is my yoga.


Day 29: PUSH!

June 29, 2008

I love Zeb’s class.

I slept late today, like realllly late, and it felt AWESOME. I got close to 11 hours of sleep last night. YEAH! So, I went to 4:30 this evening and I am so glad I did. There was something really good going on in class. First of all, it’s awesome to have Zeb back (even if he only teaches occasionally). He’s just… Good at pushing you, good at encouraging you, and good at being, well… Zeb.

This evening’s class was pure energy for me. I never once considered skipping a set or a posture the entire class. I worked hard, and I loved it. Maybe all the rest, or all the relaxing I did today. Who knows, I was right there.

I’m loving that now that my practice is getting stronger, I am more able to really push in class. It used to exhaust me. I’d push too much too early and not have enough to make it through the class. Now, pushing myself gives me energy. My body is getting really strong. My legs are getting leaner and more flexible, and I’m moving deeper into postures I used to struggle with.

As an aside, one of my Challenge friends Sherrilyn broke her toe! She is off the mat for six weeks. This makes me very sad. She was halfway finished. I will miss her smile and standing next to her at all those early classes.

I’m going to bed soon. See you all tomorrow.

35/60 (if you’re counting… I am)