Back to every day being different. So I went into class with the same mindset as the previous day: I don’t have it, I’d be better served by taking it easy, and I’m sitting in the back row. Looking back to how those same feelings proved to be incorrect assumptions the day before, I reminded myself to not get into my own head too much and to simply take each posture for what they are that day.
But my hamstrings and hips didn’t cooperate, so my standing series became all about form, and as soon as I tried to make them about depth, I would fail miserably. My “standing head-to-knee” became about simply standing on one leg because neither leg would lock for more than ten seconds. My “standing bow” looked more like an archer firing an arrow into the air than at a target. I will admit that on a warmer day I might have taken some postures off, but I got through it. Then, after I was in the changing room getting situated, I was overcome with emotion. So overcome that all I could think about doing was going into the shower and crying my eyes out. My mind was racing with every negative thought I could have about my own life, my goals and accomplishments, and my biggest mistakes. In all honesty, it took me nearly an hour to shake the feeling. In retrospect and reflection I recalled many teachers saying things like “we hold a lot a of tension in our hips,” and “many things ‘come up’ in camel” and I saw that hip tension was a main problem throughout the class. In “standing bow” and “toe stand” it prevented me from even sniffing the full expression of the posture, and in “floor bow” pushing my hips open too early caused an early fatigue that made it feel as though I had been going too deeply. It seems that on day seventeen I’ve come to understand that with soreness and overuse, my hips have actually gotten tighter. Which gives me a new thing to work on in the final two weeks.
Athletes playing in "the zone" know what its like to focus so hard that things get easy, and that's the sort of focus I'm trying to bring to all the work I do.
I mentioned once before that it’s almost impossible to plan out Bikram Yoga classes until you’re in the hot room performing the postures. Still though, you can plan to focus, and you can expect a great class if you do. While the first always works against you, the second usually relaxes you and helps you through the class. After a few days of weighing myself down with distractions, I went into the room with the goal of being distracted by nothing, and repeating my mantra of “focus” whenever my mind wandered even the slightest bit. This day was a day of focus far more than it was a day to complete the yoga. In many ways, I find myself continuously starting over with this yoga. It’s a challenge to get every element of the yoga, from breath control, to focus, to execution of the postures, to maintaining stillness, to work all at once. I’m usually working on one thing at a time.
What helped be bounce back even more was that day’s teacher, Luke Strandquist. I’d never taken one of his classes, but I’d seen him before around the studio and at one of the studio’s anniversary parties. Going on what he says (continuously), his ten years of experience with the yoga is more than any other teacher currently at the studio, and just as it is with the co-owners of the studio, Adam Roper and Erik Cummings, Luke’s class moves at a certain pace and speed. He still has a little of that auctioneer’s diction with parts of the dialogue, and fills up some of the dead space with some of his own inspirational words, but nearly everything he said in class helped me stay in the present and execute my goal of total mental focus throughout the class. The result was some of my more effective work of the week in the hot room, including a full kick out during “standing head-to-knee” posture, and a full “toe stand” on my left leg. Both were first-time progressions in this block of yoga I’ve done and I can only attribute the improvements to allowing in all of the positive factors in the class and releasing the negative ones in my head.