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Once More Into The Breach, Dear Friends, It’s Day 8! January 18, 2011

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 21-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Fitness, Health, Karma, Mantra, Meditation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Philosophy, Science, Twin Cities, Yoga.
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In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man

As modest stillness and humility:”

– William Shakespeare’s Henry V (I:3)

For most of the first week of the Yoga Journal 21-Day Challenge, I was house sitting for a friend. I had tons of space, tons of quiet, and two computers in the room where I practiced the video sequences. didn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone, or about being disturbed. The cat and I did not compete for the shower. It was a peaceful way to practice. Yes, the volume was an issue, as was the height of the desk when I was lying on the floor, but I didn’t have any downloading issues and all was good. Despite the fact that I was a little off staying in a new place and working out the logistics of traveling to and from a different home base, it was pretty relaxing. It was almost like a retreat – a retreat with a great view and some really good yoga teachers.

Fast forward to Monday, Day 8 of the challenge. As much as I enjoyed practices led by teachers I had never met, I was itching for a real class with a real live, real time, teacher. Truth be told, I was also itching for something familiar. I got myself geared up to take a class from a teacher who has also been my student and whose class I had sorely missed because of my work schedule during the holidays. I walked into the studio and discovered there was a sub. Still, I was excited, because the sub was someone I’d met and from whom I had hoped to take a class. The schedule just hadn’t worked out.

As the class started, my body warmed up; my mind focused on the breath; and the movement; I smiled some and I was glad to be right there, right then. Suddenly, about midway through the Sun Salutations, I found myself in the middle of a “let go of what you know” moment. Or maybe, instead of calling it a moment, I should call it a battle. Or a war.

My breath stayed steady throughout the practice. However, as we proceeded my body felt more and more out of balance; my mind started to fluctuate; and I couldn’t let go of the sensation that things were going downhill fast. Watching me, the teacher probably had no idea I was fighting – and failing – to stay on my mat. As I made my way through some fairly challenging asanas, I doubt anyone in the room was aware that I just wanted to shout, “Are you kidding me?!?!” and then storm out of the room.

Contrary to what I wrote yesterday, I didn’t do what I knew would work for me and I didn’t go into an extended Child’s Pose. I wanted to move. I wanted to be open to the moment. So, I took the suggestions, as they were given, until we got to the final supine twist. Then, I just had to do what I had to do: I twisted to the left first, instead of the right. I settled into Savasana, feeling fairly confident that there was a method to the teacher’s “madness” – as well as a message I would have appreciated if it had come by way of a different method. I also realized I hadn’t done myself any favors by being resistant to what was being offered, as it was being offered.

Leaving the studio, my body felt a little cranky and I found myself staring into space. I joked to one of my students that all the “Shoveling Snow Pose” I had to do that afternoon wouldn’t leave me incapacitated, but that the class I took might. Two hours later, when every step felt like someone was poking a cattle prod in my right buttocks, I was no longer laughing. I was trying to figure out how I was going to restore myself.

Even though I didn’t preview any of the videos during Week 1, I was fairly certain the Week 2 videos were in the same order. I was looking forward to doing the Day 1 sequence again, just to see how it would feel after all the other sequences. At least, that’s how I felt before the cattle prod sensation. Afterward, I started reconsidering my options. Part of me really wanted to just flow on my own or stream a vinyasa practice from a teacher with whom I’m familiar. Another part of me really wanted to do the video sequence from Day 4, Day 5, or Day 6 of the challenge. I even considered Day 2, even though it was going to be evening before I could practice. Ultimately, however, I decided to give the sequence from Day 7 another shot. It had, after all, the elements I needed to fix what ailed me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the practice until after I left the “retreat.” I had to make space to heal and restore. The tub was less than appealing. And, I hadn’t counted on having problems with the download. I decided it was all for the good. Repeating a section until the video unfroze worked until I realized I was cold – therefore not doing my stiff muscles any favors – and needed to do more. So, based on what I remembered about the video, I started throwing in restorative postures I knew would fit with the sequence and which would help my cranky low back and hips. Throw in a little Supine Pigeon here, a little Supta Padangusthasana there, some twisting and hip flexing, plus Ananstasana Thirty minutes later, the video had only progressed through 11 minutes of the recorded sequence and I was still cold. I did Legs-Up-The Wall, considered staying there for the 18-Minute So Hum meditation, and then decided to do shift into Savasana. There was just no way I could sit for that long and wasn’t sure it was a good time to do an inversion for that long, even a mild one. Once again, I set my alarm for the wrong time and went over.

Oh well, it’s just another day on the mat. In the end, I got through it and I feel peace.

~ Shanti, Shanti, Shanthi ~

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