Monday, December 8, 2003

I drank way too much at our company holiday party on Friday night. Consequently, the next day I suffered my worst hangover of the last five years. Quite possibly one of the top-five worst hangovers of my life. I was sick almost all day Saturday and into the evening.

The flipside to such a brain-splittingly ferocious hangover is that any inclinations to drink I might have had -- which, admittedly, were almost nonexistant at this point -- have been burned away.

How does this relate to asana? Well, Saturday is obviously an off day, so I convalesced, drank water, ate aspirin, and generally moved about very gingerly. I will also admit I went to the Encinitas Diner at 3 p.m. -- my first time off the couch all day -- ordered a tuna melt and french fries, and consumed all of it. The following day, Sunday, however, was practice.

I awoke Sunday feeling slightly queesy, and immediately thought, "I'm on the verge of a two-day hangover!" The sky was overcast, and I believe it even rained a little. My joints get a little weird when it rains -- a little stiffer, a little creakier. I was determined to practice, however, and accept the consequences of Friday's excesses.

Practice rolled around at 10 a.m. Sundays are always crowded. There's usually a mob of people out front of the shala, and you tend to see a lot of people who can't make it during the week.

If you were to plot a graph of the number of practices one has (the x coordinate) versus the transformational power of ashtanga (the y coordinate), I wonder at what point the cut-off line falls between casual yogi and dedicated ashtangi -- meaning, could you plot how many practices you had to have before graduating to a daily practice?

I wonder that because there are so many people I've seen every Sunday for nearly two years who ONLY practice on Sunday.

Obviously it's not something that can be generalized. How do you quantify the transformational power of ashtanga, anyway? We all have epiphanies in different ways and times. Also, obviously practicing only one or two times a week is more than enough for some people.

At any rate, class was mostly full, although I had more room than usual. I suspect attendance will gradually decrease next week, too, as Tim is gone for longer.

I was feeling okay when class began, but was dreading the thought of marichyasana and urdhva dhanurasana. The twisting poses really do something to your liver, kidneys and stomach -- namely, squeeze the hell out of them. I was dreading what might get squeezed out. And then back bends -- well, they initiate all sorts of interesting physical and mental reactions.

The room was warm and humid, and I think that helped, because my practice was great. It really fired along. I really thrive on warm, humid temperatures, I guess. I also have been practicing nauli during adha mukkha svanasana because it really fires up the agni, activates the bandhas, and compresses everything south of the navel in a great internal massage. I figured that would be a good gauge of how I was going to feel during practice. There was no sickness to report, however, and I had a briliant practice.

It was very humid in there, and some people were gasping. The poor girl next to me lost it midway through the seated series, and began panic-breathing. It sounded like someone having an anxiety attack. But she started breathing through her nose again, and her breath evened out.

On the way out of class, I was thinking that I've never had a bad practice. They're all really, really good. For some reason, for the last few weeks, they seem to be noticeably improving, too. I know I've also switched up some dietary factors, too. Chief among the changes: I've been eating lighter dinners earlier in the evening, say around 6:00 or 6:30. It's had a dramatic effect.

So while I've never had a bad practice, I can definitely remember having some very, very HARD practices, where halfway through I've thought, "Sweet Jesus, I'm never going to make it!" They're no fun, but just as informative as the good practices.

I remember being in a led class on Tuesday morning; this is the class where Tim practices first series along with the class. I didn't really notice anything until the end, when we only did five back bends -- normally, Tim does between 12 and 15.

After savasana, Tim looked especially fatigued. He said to the class, "Good god, is it always that hard for you?" He must have had a pretty off day.