3 March 2011

Wednesday night yoga class

After 12 years of regular Iyengar and Ashtanga classes, followed by 2 years of solitary self practice, doing a weekly yoga class again is pure indulgence.

Darrin’s class starts at the rather inconvenient time of 7.30pm, so I refrain from eating dinner or snacking after work. This means I have to eat enough at work during the afternoon to sustain me through until 9pm. Getting the right amount of food at the right time can be a bit tricky during a hectic work day, especially as I'm not in the habit of thinking much about what and when I eat.

If I can leave work on time I arrive home around 5.20pm, feed the animals, walk Buffy, shower, prepare, and leave around 7.15pm for the yoga studio. During these two quiet hours I am made VERY aware of my habitual desire to eat when I get home.
It doesn’t go away, it’s right there in front of me.

Food is a welcome pleasure and reward after a day at work, even when I'm not hungry.
Resisting the desire to gratify a sense pleasure is like sharpening the dull end of my mind into a shiny point of focus. My discipline, equanimity, and commitment to observing the habits of my mind are all tested...the autopilot is disarmed.
This all-day preparation for the Wednesday evening yoga class interrupts the rollercoaster ride of work and family commitments and helps ground me back into the deeper undercurrent.
Wednesdays are now a day of yoga practice in its fuller sense.

The class
Darrin delivered a nicely balanced blend of poses tonight, starting with Uttanasana and Dog Pose, some Handstands with varied hand positions, Pincha Mayurasana, then Gomukasana to open the shoulder joints (kneeling instead of the fully crossed leg position) before going back to the wall for Pincha Mayurasana again. Long holds in Virabhadrasana 1 with the front toes and hands to the wall and the back foot pointing forwards, big focus on lifting the front and back thigh of the back leg and moving parts of it in particular directions (was I tuning out during these intricate Iyengar details again?). Downward Dog then lots of Upward Dog with hands on blocks (focus on upper front thighs again), Bridge pose, Urdhva Dhanurasana a few times before bending the elbows and lowering into Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana twice. The counter backbend poses were Uttanasana (feet apart) with a twist and Supta Padangusthasana, Ardha Halasana on a chair, then a heavenly Savasana.

As often happens we had to leave our mats many times during the class to gather around Darrin for his demonstration of very fine points. This doesn't irritate me any more (well, it didn’t tonight…) I'm sure a lot of students benefit from the detailed explanations and the rest between poses.

There's not much more to say about tonight's class except I was surprised at my body's incredibly open backbends, having not done any for a month or two.

I ponder over why a yoga class feels so self-indulgent these days, even a challenging class.
Perhaps its the sensual pleasure of being fully present in my body from head to toe while being blindly led through a series of poses by someone I trust…a delicious mix of immersion and complete surrender…like relaxing into a warm bath.

The challenge I face on the outside of this class is how to overcome my obsessive compulsive solitude disorder, and learn how to cultivate real friendships with real human beings. Darrin and I have been superficial friends on the yoga periphery of each other's lives for over 10 years now, but I sense a deeper friendship is finally opening up.
True yoga friends are an extraordinary gift.

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