Monday, March 1, 2004

The contrast between asana practice on Sunday and Monday mornings is an eye-opener. Sundays, I practice at 10 a.m., Mondays I practice at 7. On Sunday, the room is crowded and hot. People get so hot that their sweat steams and vaporizes. It’s an uncanny sensation to look back and see a fine mist rising off bodies. The first time I saw it, I thought something was wrong with my eyes.

Mondays are another story, and besides the early-morning cold, the worst part is having Sunday’s muscle-memory of an open body, warm room, and later start time. Monday practice can be a bit of a struggle. It sure helps me never take anything for granted.

Pranayama practice is getting better, and I’ve really come to look forward to certain parts. The emptiness of the exhale-retentions, with bandhas engaged, is a very peaceful place—when it’s not a place of the utmost anxiety and tension. Take something you’re very, very attached too—like breathing, for example—and stop doing it. Some very interesting feelings and sensations arise.

Asanas progress. Janu sirsasana C on the left side has suddenly started happening, where before it was difficult to rotate the hip and bring the left knee to the floor. I’m still getting squashed in baddha konasana (my nemesis!). As per Tim’s led classes of late, I’ve started doing baddha konasana B and C in preparation for my “Mysore initiation,” i.e. Guruji and company flattening me in the pose.

And backbends? Well, they’re still backbends. I’ve not stood up yet, but the day is fast approaching. Tim’s given me several poses into second series that are really helping me open the necessary complementary body parts. As a result, I’ve cut down my backbends to only six a day, plus dropbacks. I’ve found with the new poses, which go up to bekasana, I simply don’t need to do 12 or 9 backbends. Perhaps I’ll stand up on my own before leaving for India?

The other day, a friend and I were talking about practicing in Mysore. I was a little apprehensive about being stopped somewhere in the series; in India, Pattabhi Jois and his grandson Sharath will watch you practice for a few days and determine where you most need help. During the led class, they’ll stop you and direct you to take finishing poses when you hit a pose you shouldn’t be doing.

I don’t mind being stopped so much, mostly because I’ve come to appreciate the transformative effect of the practice. I’ve seen the changes in my own body, so I know that if I get stopped somewhere, it won’t be for long. My fear comes from a familiar place, though: the fear of looking like an idiot in a room full of people.

I’ve realized, though, that in that situation you’ll only like an idiot once, which is the amount of time it takes to figure out what the hell is going on.

Mysore Update
I tore February off my calendar sheet today. It was a grand feeling. The simple fact that it’s now March makes the trip seem that much more real.

Perhaps one day I’ll be rich enough that I can buy a ticket to India right before I want to travel, rather than wait an unbearable two months. March is going to fly by, though, not least because I have a ton of things to take care of to make sure this trip happens: sell stuff on eBay, secure a visa, send my letter to the studio, find a place to put my car, deal with my cell phone, etc, etc.

And oh yeah, show up for work, act interested, and summon enough drive to do my job so I don’t get fired before I’m ready to leave. Obviously I’m blowing that last bit, as I’m writing this Monday afternoon at work.

Strangely enough, I’m not really worried about my return, although I should be. I think the trip is close enough that my excitement is overtaking my trepidation.