Hello, blogger friends! OK, so... while I've been reading your blogs avidly, I have clearly been lacking on doing posting of my own. Maybe I'm in the doldrums of summer, or maybe some recent (good) changes in my life have distracted me a bit. Another likely culprit is that I'm at a bit of a plateau in my practice, and I want to cocoon into that, rather than blogging about it.
In class, I have to struggle to turn off the negative, cynical narrator I've got in the back of my head: "oh man, I'm still only here in Standing Head-to-Knee? I can't get past step two." Lately, I have to remind myself that progress isn't necessarily reflected in an ability to go deeper into the postures. It can be manifested elsewhere, outside the hotroom.
I had an interesting experience last night in another, Ashtanga-based class. Just a litle bit of background: when I was 16, I started taking Ashtanga classes and practiced Ashtanga quite regularly for about ten years. Toward the end of those ten years, I did "pure" first series at least twice a week.
Now, there's a posture in first series called Marichasana D.
It's like the Bikram Spinal Twist on crack! Marichasana D was my nemesis. Every time I'd get to that part in the sequence, I'd think, "It doesn't matter how flexible or strong I get. My body isn't built for this pose; I'll never do it without the help of the teacher." Well, last night at the Ashtanga-y class I took with a couple of my dear friends, the teacher gave us an opportunity to try it. And I slid right into it.
Mind you, I'm sure I didn't look anything like the picture. I think my right knee was off the floor. But I was able to do it! And I did it after a two-year hiatus from Ashtanga.
The experience was such a great reminder. You don't always see the progress right away. It's not a steady, uphill climb, with the mountain top getting closer and closer. Sometimes, the evidence of your work happens later--much later--and in unexpected ways. I may still be stuck in Standing Head to Knee, but there is progress in my life in other areas: I can easily do a four-mile jog. Panicky and racing thoughts are stilled much more quickly after beginning this practice. I've actually taken up sitting in meditation each morning (now that is the scariest undertaking of them all!)
It was also cool to note that only after a steady Bikram practice that I was able to get into that pose. I guess the series, "simple" as it may be, really does prepare you for everything else!