Monday, March 22, 2010

You're out of control, baby.

A nice balmy room?

A strong practice in which I hold all the postures the full length of time?

Boy did I want that.

As a result, I went to a different studio today. As it's been warm lately, I've been dreaming about this larger studio with a really efficient heater. Although I only attended classes twice there, the heat feels evenly distributed (i.e., not blowing around or wavering in temperature) and delicious. My anxiety levels have been down the past few months, but today, for some reason, they were up. I was OK physically, but I couldn't focus on anything at work. I was sure a kick-ass class would get me back to normal mentally.

Is it just me, or do we tend to get the opposite of what we want from a Bikram yoga class? I did not have a kick-ass class; this class kicked my ass.

Not making matters any easier was the fact that I was taking a class from the highly respected studio owner, whom I had not practiced with since I was about 19 years old. I had to sit out a couple of sets and it was extremely difficult to keep my mind (and admittedly, my body) in the room today. Pretty much lost the concentration battle--by wind-removing pose, I was trying not to enter panic mode or run out. And, OMG, it was, like, hot in there.

Bottom line: my expectations were too high: try to please teacher! Try to own all the poses! Balance both sides in toe stand! Ooooooops

That humbling aside, I got a couple of wonderful insights today. This teacher's classes are wonderfully taught. His dialogue is precise and emphasized clearly, and he rarely deviates except to bring in corrections for specific students. But in savasana, he would go into detail about what was happening in the body. And this dude knows his stuff. I had never heard explanations about how yoga lowers high blood pressure before, but he went into technicalities--the arteries harden and fissure, causing plaque and cholesterol to form and stay, leading to high everything, how the yoga works to soften and heal the arteries. Good stuff, over and over, in each savasana.

Then, after class, I figured I would be persistent and "demanding" (hard for me!) and take up his time asking questions about my recently-diagnosed high blood pressure and meds. He kindly took about 20 minutes talking to me, and one of the things the told me was that I did not have to be scared in the yoga room. "Despite what it might feel like in there," he said, "it's the safest environment imaginable. It's a controlled space, a safe space."

That was what I needed to hear. All that anxiety, it comes from a desire to control the situation. In class, I admittedly feel out of control. I'm at the mercy of the heat, the teacher, my body, my mind. But that doesn't matter, right? And it's probably not even true. We are at no one's mercy. We're just in the room, doing a well thought-out set of postures that will help, not hurt. Worrying that I'm out of control is just a sign that I'm obsessed about being in control. And what a pipe dream that is!

Once again, I've written a wants vs. needs post. It's a constant struggle to let go of the wants, the expectations. But we have to try and trust that the need will be met. It has to.

1 comment:

Lady J said...

It is so true when we want something so bad from a class that the opposite happens. It's almost as if the yoga is reminding us to just be. That we need to give up that control that we so want, that the teacher is not judging us in the room. I am so bad for doing this some days and then I berate myself for having the expectations when I know I shouldn't.

But on the bright side, it's wonderful that we recognize this. That we are open to change. Isn't it wonderful when we come away from a class having learned so much!