Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ah... practice.

I finally feel like I'm home. I went to a sister studio to practice last night and had a wonderful, deep, focused, strong practice. New studio, front row, nice and hot, new teacher. She was all business, it was great.

My half moon second set was maybe the best it's ever looked. I love this posture since I've come back from training. I still strain to hold it and maintain breathing, but boy do I love it. And I did a bunch of camels yesterday during the day so my backbend second set was nice and open.

Standing balancing still a challenge, but I know that I have to work on squeezing the thigh in standing bow pose. Maybe this will help me. I have great depth but it's such a challenge holding it. Balancing stick - all four sides... held with strength and purpose.

The thing I like most about practicing post training is working with something I learned about half way through training. As the heart rate climbs and the heart slams in the chest, for me, it activates a panic sensation. About half way through training, I started working with my breathing, to really focus and maintain long smooth breathing throughout class, especially when my heart pounded.

Bikram said during training that you'd be operating on a higher level when you returned to your real life, having been turned on to the beginnings of self-realization. I don't know - I can't say that is happening or not happening to me, it's terminology I won't pretend to own. However when I stay with my breath and breath long slow breaths and stay calm instead of letting that heart-pounding-working-hard feeling make me panic (like "I'm not going to be able to keep this up, I'm going to die," etc)... I do feel a real connection with the sensation of working one layer up. Being one step removed from reality. Operating, as Bikram would say, in a higher dimension.

The true test of your fitness in a Bikram class is how quickly your heart calms between postures. I can't say that I have that level of fitness; my heart pounds through the spine strengthening series. But I do, in the rest periods, truly rest, and feel it come back down. I can now identify the sensation of blood rushing to my head in my first backbends of the day. Boy is that wild. Sometimes it is very intense, especially when coming up. That's why I like to do camels throughout the day so that when I practice I don't run into the wooshing and lightheadness in the yoga room.

I had this amazing delicious appreciation towards the 3/4 mark of class last night, appreciating the sweat, the practice, the difficulty, the heart pounding feeling, and really appreciating my own strength and my ability to keep my breath calm in the face of it all, to rise above, as it were. I am so happy I have worked so hard in the past year to get to where I am, where I can truly LOVE practicing Bikram. I am not struggle-minded in the yoga room. Not anymore. I think it's awesome.

I can always connect with beginners though because I remember what it was like in training when I couldn't even stand up some days. When I had shooting pains in my shoulders, cramps, all of it. This year, my 30th year, has been so amazing. I did not know at the beginning of this year that this would be the year that I became a yoga teacher, something i have desired since 2000. I am so proud of what I have accomplished this year. And I love practicing at my home studio, but am psyched to make it over to the other studio twice a week for a new environment, new teachers.

1 comment:

lz said...

Ariella, thank you for stopping by and commenting on my blog! And CONGRATULATIONS for completing teacher training!! You sound like you've had an absolutely insightful experience. It's fantastic that you had a pleasant class - visible improvement is always awesome.

I really like what you mentioned about the true test of fitness being how quickly your heart calms between postures. The breath is the foundation upon which this practice builds, so it is only reasonable that it indicate our stamina and endurance.

And yes, when we truly appreciate even the most challenging aspects of the Bikram series, it just makes it all the more valuable!