Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Yoga is Hot

Tuesdays are ashtanga yoga days. Kathryn (who is generally amazing and awesome) has been encouraging me to attend class more often, and now that I've moved, she's been picking me (and my heavy yoga mat) up so that I don't have an excuse not to go.

I love yoga--I love how good I feel, even if I'm terrible at the poses. But I'm also really good at making excuses for myself. Today, it would have been "I'm too hot!" or "I'm so tired". If your friend is expecting you, however, it's harder to make up an excuse, especially if the excuse is lame. So to yoga I went.

Kathryn's practice notes from today summarize how class was. Mysore, for yoga neophytes, is self-paced practice in a group setting. Mysore style allows one to focus on her own pacing and not try to keep up with the class. I've found that I get a little sloppy with some of the poses and transitions when I'm trying to follow along with the rest of the group. Today I tried to concentrate on not letting my back bow down when I jump back. I think I need to build up my abs more. I also tried the modifications for some of the poses I'm learning instead of skipping them, and that was pretty cool.

Usually my thoughts during yoga go something like this: "Wow, it's great to be doing sun salutations. Oh, now I'm sweating pretty good. Uggh, it's really hot. Now I'm really dripping--time to lay out the towel. I'm glad I have this towel to wipe off my sweaty, nasty face. This is hard. I want to quit. Oh look, backbends--yay! Wow, I feel awesome. Yoga is great". Basically, toward the beginning of the primary sequence, I get really tired and discouraged, but slog through it. Then I hit the point where it feels easier and everything is great, and when it's done, I'm very happy.

Today, that didn't happen. I was hot. I was tired. My limbs didn't have the same strength--the heat and lack of sleep had zapped my energy. But I continued through, and lay exhausted in the final pose for 10 minutes. I was happy that I had gone to yoga, but it definitely didn't feel easy at any point.

Our teacher kept telling us to take it easy, to listen to our selves, and to not feel distressed if the pose is not coming as easily. We are to not let our ego exist when we're doing the poses. I had to constantly remind myself that today, this asana is simply this way. I can only exist in how it is; I should not worry about how I'm failing. I'm not failing--by showing up and practicing, I'm doing something good for my body and my mind, and that's what yoga is about.

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