Friday, March 12, 2010

"He ain't drownin'. He's just doin' the sidestroke."

One of the things I love about yoga is how it serves as a gauge for how preoccupied my mind is. Pretty much every time I walk into the yoga room, the phrase, "CHRIST, it's hot" flickers across my mind. On good days, I quickly think something like, "Duh, Captain Obvious, the sign out front says BIKRAM, not 24-Hour Fitness."

These are the good days--I let go of the piles of papers, the work-related emergencies, the floor that desperately needs mopping. And the heat somehow just... relents. I let my body open up, I let the sweat just roll out of me, and it's almost like I win.

Then, there are the not-so-good days. The work-related emergencies don't abate right away. They pop up in Half-Moon, Standing Separate Leg Forehead-to-Knee pose, and steal my newfound ability to balance in Toe Stand. And I can't. let. go. of. the. HEAT.

I had an interesting experience while struggling through Half-Moon today. My "monkey mind" was out and proud, strutting his stuff and keeping my mind everywhere except on progress. I was looking at myself and got fixated on the asymmetry. In Half-Moon, my spine bends beautifully to the right. When bending to the left, however, I struggle mightily just to attain the correct form. I am pretty sure I curve like nobody's business--torso is forward, chest collapses. The asymmetry is frustrating.

Normally, I can let that go. Throughout Bikram's gold book, he reminds us that asymmetry is, in fact, OK. I'm too lazy tonight to dig through the book to find a passage, but he writes something like, "One side more limber than the other? That's OK, you're normal." Phew. But tonight it took a little more effort. My mind was utterly convinced that I would be the Hunchback of Notre Dame by the time I was 30 and that it was way hotter than normal (initially, it probably was). I was having an incredibly hard time not bolting from the room. Until I drew on a NOLA memory to calm me down.   

Before class, I was browsing through some photos I took when I was in New Orleans last year. I remembered a trip to the swamp that my friends and I took. We were there in the spring, and these recently-emerged caterpillars were falling from the trees and into the water and onto the boat. They looked a little bit like these guys.

Freaky caterpillar.

A somewhat relevant aside: I'm actually deathly afraid of caterpillars. Even that picture is freakin' me out, so please appreciate the effort, folks. I'm having flashbacks right now. Caterpillars are my one irrational phobia. Of course, this transformed the swamp tour into a terrifying excursion involving a moment where there was an actual caterpillar on my arm. There were some good times, though, one of which involving a sweet exchange between a father and son as they were peering over the side of the boat and into the caterpillar-infested water.

Boy [In a heavy Southern accent]: "Dad, is that caterpillar drownin?"
Father: "Naw, son, he ain't drownin'. He's jest doin' the sidestroke."

OK, so, aside from that being a funny and sweet exchange that made me laugh at something caterpillar-related, it actually helped me back in my March 12, 2010 Half-Moon pose. There I was, all freaked out by my asymmetrical pose and what felt like an excessively hot room, and what calmed me down and kept me in the room? "She ain't drownin'. She's just doin' the sidestroke."

Swamp in Slidell, near New Orleans, spring '09


feral chick said...

LOL! :-) (aw, but now I'm missin' the swamp!)

Anonymous said...

Yes there are times/days that it is hard to let go of "things" and the heat /sweat gets to you. It is great that you're able to find a way to distract your frustration.

catherine said...

I love this! I thought of it while practicing last night, during my troublesome left side, too. We're jest doin' the sidestroke. :D

(BTW - I've found some kind of progress in my left shoulder/spine torsion, and the second I figure out how to explain it, I will.)
xoxo, your partner in Hunchedbackedness :)

bikramyogachick said...

Ok, the caterpillar is creepy looking. It looks like it has some sort of spikes coming out of it! I'm traumatized now... :)
I always notice the same thing in half moon. My lateral flexion is not good to begin with. I'm at about 1 oclock on the right side. If I go deeper, I lose the integrity of the posture. On the left side, I am at about 11:57! :)
Also, I have teachers coming over and pulling on my legs to "straighten me out" in savasana constantly. I think due to my slight scoliosis I was diagnosed with as a child, I've got lots of asymmetry!
Good post!

bikramyogachick said...

Hey~ go back to my blog and check out my response to your comment regarding your conference next month.... :)

Yolk E said...

Feral, we need to move to the swamp. I ache for the Spanish moss!

And that caterpillar is CREEPY!

PBY, isn't it funny how distractability and our comfort levels are usually linked?

Thanks for the commiseration, Catherine :-)