Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back to led practice

Yes, today is a moon day, but I practiced anyway because well, that's when the led class happens. It felt really good to be grounded by my regular practice again, but the entire time I sort of wondered why the heck did I go sooooo fast in my Mysore practice last week? I totally thought I was keeping time to my teacher's normal counting. Either my teacher normally counts faster and he chose to count more slowly today, or alternatively, the burden of counting on my own felt so daunting I just rushed to get it all over with.

It's interesting how the mind works. Today I felt like my mind relaxed and allowed me to focus on how each pose felt at the moment I was holding it. In the Mysore practice it seemed like all my mind could do was to hear my breathing and do counting, that was it. Anything other tasks would become over-burden for the conscious brain. As I got into my janushirsansa b and c, I couldn't help but to wonder: did I even do these 2 poses in my Mysore class? I'm pretty sure I must have done them, but I have zero recollection of feeling my heel pressed into mula bandha, or the toe crunching / achilles tendon stretching sensations that I felt today in class. Did I bother going to my edge at all in my Mysore practice? I think the only perception I could manage besides remembering the sequence was that I felt no pain sensations.

It seems like a significant part of the practice of yoga is to understand our inner workings of our own minds. With this little Mysore back to led practice experiment, I discovered I have major blind spots in my brain. When the brain is occupied with being in an unfamiliar environment and new tasks, it drops the perceptions of less important things, like the details of how each pose feels in different parts of the body. Even though my focus on breathing was much better in the Mysore class (because it was what I used to pace myself) than in a led class, I felt less calm after the practice (more calm than before I practiced, but less calm than practicing at my usual class).  I wonder when I will reach a point where I feel completely at ease and be able to fully enjoy the practice without being my own yoga police, worrying if my bandha's engaged, if my legs are straight, if my neck's crunched, if my shoulders are away from my ears, if my side bodies are lengthened, so on and so forth. I fantasize about a perfect practice with no extraneous muscle strains, everything stays aligned, jump-throughs don't feel like dragging a bag of heavy bricks across the mat, and my breathing feels super smooth. It's something I would like to work towards.

7 comments:

  1. Mysore will just take some getting used to, I think it's harder for the brain to settle because you are on your own, but it's also forced me to see where my internal task master is making me miserable and to slowly learn to be kinder to myself. Now practicing at home? whew. that really hard for me!

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  2. I was nervous in my first Mysore classes as well. It's natural to feel a little self-conscious and baffled by how advanced everyone else seems to be vis-a-vis your own practice, but that is why it's such a valuable way to learn. This approach has taught me humility (that it's ok if I don't have a perfect practice every single time), how to mind my own business, listen to my body and really focus on the breath when faced with distractions. It takes some getting used to, but it really is the best way to learn in my view :)

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  3. @Loo, glad I'm not the only with a task master brain. Home practice is nearly impossible for me, but I gotta learn that sooner or later.

    @savasanaadict, I actually enjoy watching advanced practitioners doing crazy intermediate and advanced stuff. I just need to learn to settle and actually be able to feel sensations in the body in a Mysore setting :)

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  4. i remember groaning on fridays because it was led class. If Tim was kind, he wouldnt slow down his counting. Now i actually enjoy it :) gives me a chance to focus more.

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  5. Hi Yoginicory, I think led class is physically more challenging any day. But because I got so used to it, it's mentally more comfortable for me. I guess there'll always be a mind-body separation.. the mind can never 100% accurately assess the body's abilities.

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  6. that is very interesting - i fell in love with mysore class. the shala where i go to is quite small and because teachers keep a close eye on you, you perform very intensely - much more than led class. once you get used to it,it is absolutely beautiful observing the changes in your body and progress - all on your own. very satisfying and calming. hope you keep up with it. my mat at home is always ready for me ;-) ~ ivana

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  7. Hi Ivana, my think my led class is quite unique compared to everyone else's led class experience. It is pretty much like a Mysore class in terms of teacher's assistance. My teacher would work specifically with me one aspect at a time for months until I become proficient at that aspect, and then he would move on to work with me on another pose, all the time with us doing 1/2 primary series. It's very personal and absolutely amazing.

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