Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Plateaus and progress

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!


lifeistooshortforlowfatcheese said...

Been reading your blog for awhile. This post is so true. I had been trying Dancer's Pose for a while, barely making any progress, and then all of a sudden BAM - right into the pose I went one day! :-)


Yolk E said...

Thanks for coming by, Torri :-) I read yours and see you suffer from migraines. I used to get them ALL the time. Does the yoga help? Mine virtually went away when I started Bikram yoga...

anna said...

There you go... it DOES pay off!! I know all about the cynical narrator too... When I get to go to a seminar /posture clinic it really fires up my Bikram practice - shows me all the places I could work harder. It's quite refreshing actually!

bikramyogachick said...

This post is so very true!
**the bikram spine twist on crack**- LOVED that!

catherine said...

E and Torri - I think I see parallels in the names of your respective blogs. :) And I totally agree that life is too short for both low-fat cheese and not eating yolks.
That posture looks nuts! Congrats, girl!

lifeistooshortforlowfatcheese said...

Hi again!

Yes, in fact the migraines are becoming less since I started hot yoga. I was getting them twice weekly, and they seem to be slowing down to once every two weeks or so?


Yolk E said...

So glad the migraines are less, Torri. They can be debilitating.

Thanks, chicas! Yeah, that posture is nuts. And Anna, I completely know what you mean about the posture clinic. It helps to view and do the postures in a different context. You just see them from a different angle.