Saturday, June 26, 2010

Maximum relaxation?

Regular practitioners of Bikram Yoga often hear the phrase, "Maximum exertion to maximum relaxation." (Teachers: is this part of the dialogue? Or just a Bikram-ism?) It's a good reminder. You work, struggle, and sweat, giving 100% in the posture, and then you let go completely, allowing your body and mind to restore its natural rhythm and prepare for the next pose.

But I've always found that whole relaxation thing to be, ironically, a big struggle. I remember when I first came back to yoga, those savasanas between the postures were the times where I really had to keep a handle on my bucking bronco brain. By the time I hit the floor, I always wanted to bolt from the room. I was usually OK during the postures--relaxing between each was the problem. 

Fortunately, that part of class has gotten easier with time. In fact, I am to the point where I can really sigh and sink down into the floor, enjoying each of those juicy, nourishing 20 seconds. Too bad it's not floating over into my outside life a bit more!

I can't help see the connection to the seasons of a teacher's life! Like may people, I think I crave that perfect balance between work and fun, between business and relaxation. I don't want to be up to the gills in teaching and all that comes with it, but I don't want to feel bored or purposeless. Maybe striving for that "perfect balance" isn't realistic. If we don't give it our all sometimes, how can we ever see what we're capable of? And if we don't allow ourselves to relax completely, how do we ever truly come back to equilibrium? Part of learning to accept the moment is acknowledging that the moment is often not what we want.

I mentioned in a previous post that I'm off for the summer. I went from the maximum exertion of the regular semester to the relaxing dolldrums of summer. Occasionally, I need to work on losing the desire to "bolt from the room." I'm learning just sit with who I am and what's around me. (It's actually getting better! I bet that by the time I get the hang of it, school will be starting again ;-)

I'm in an extended 20-second savasana. I should just take it, right??


belovely said...

Hey Elisa,
Thanks for your post, and for checking out Alive in the Fire! So glad you stopped by. :) I completely agree with what you said about the supportive nature of the Bikram blog community. It certainly reflects what we practice in class, huh?

Anyway, enjoying your blog as well! I liked this post on maximum relaxation. It's amazing to me what a difference it makes when we FULLY commit to letting go, versus when we just fake it. As one of my instructors at my home studio says, "We shouldn't half-ass ANYthing in Bikram, even if we're sitting down to take a break. Don't stand there hunched over, exerting extra energy and feeling sorry for yourself. Sit down, commit to the break, and you'll feel better and be back on your feet in the postures quicker." It's totally true!

I also find it interesting how savasana -- of all the postures!-- can be a challenge during class, especially with heat ruminating from the floor. Sometimes that first 2 minutes on my back feels like an eternity! It's crazy -- half the time I'm itching to start up the postures again, and the other half I am able to completely zone out and even forget that I'm in yoga class because it's so quiet and still and peaceful. It's a great mix.

Pardon the lengthy comment, but your post got me thinking!! Enjoy your week:)

hannahjustbreathe said...

Well, they do say that savasana is the hardest asana in the entire series! :)

I think it is absolutely ESSENTIAL that we take time to recharge, whether it's a personal day off, a weekend away, a quiet night watching a good movie or reading a book, a yoga class. Because you can't go at full steam 24/7---your body, head, heart, whatever, will inevitably crash.

The way I see it, learning to relax is just as important as learning how to push yourself!

bikramyogachick said...

This post struck a chord...lately I've been wanting to bolt right at half moon. This is completely out of the realm of normal for me and it has me a bit rattled. I don't bolt, I hunker down and practice, but something Hmmm!

Yolk E said...

Belovely: thanks for coming by and for your thoughtful comment :-) I'll never get over the radical difference--those days where you can just shut off the mind and be there, and the days where it's such a challenge to stay in the room. And the weirdest thing is that so often we don't "know" what's going on that gives us the crazies. Or enables us to be calm.

Jeez, M, I totally hear you on wanting to bolt. I can take occasional inconsistencies, but when that "get me outta here!" feeling persists for many classes, it just sucks. I hope things get better for you.

I agree 100% with the time to recharge. Lately, it's been Netflixed episodes of 30 Rock ;-)