Friday, September 15, 2006

the morning challenge

And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

~Anais Nin

Blogland is fun, for the most part. I’ve been surfing through the personal sites of some practicing yogis, just to explore and learn from their experiences. Yogamum (and Ebbie, although her blog isn’t specifically directed to yoga) have inspired a nascent morning practice. I stumbled across another blog post yesterday where a gentleman of the ashtanga school described his morning yoga experience.*

To which, after this morning, I can completely relate.

Yoga at 5 AM is significantly different than yoga at 4 in the afternoon. Back is regularly twisted from stillness in sleep, hamstrings are tighter… well, everything is tighter. No caffeine yet, no food, no outside stimulation. So hard to focus on asana and flow, distracted by the List. Although tree pose was lovely. For a few seconds, all the shit went away and there was nothing but me and my body, balanced happily on one leg.

Then I got bored and thought about something else, and the shadow on the wall started to look more like Tree-Blowing-In-The-Wind pose. Then I got the giggles. Stephanie Keach calls it “your monkey mind. Where is your monkey mind going right now?” The ultimate metaphor for my hyperactive, bouncy, random thoughts.

Maybe that’s part of it – morning is my good mental time, but the body takes a while to catch up. Afternoon is easier for yoga – body is warmer from activity, but brain is ready to be still for a little while.

Yesterday I ran across another post that struck home, from the yogalila blog. It’s from a teacher, and it was written in mid-September of 2005 – a few days after the fourth anniversary. Jill says,

I often refer to how we type, drive, and do many other daily tasks in a hunched fashion, shoulder blades splaying off the back, chin jutting forward. Yesterday, I went one step further and wrapped my arms around myself. The wisdom of
Loretta and Lianne must have been percolating inside, because I suddenly recognized that protective, wrapping action: the action of grieving. “Let's move away from 'grief pose,'” I said. "Time for some backbends of joy!"

Monday, as I mentioned before, I was pretty upset by the time practice came around. I thought I could focus some of that energy into the poses, and it seemed to work well. At least I wasn’t focused on how angry and grief-stricken I was.

Bow pose in the second Kest video is a real challenge for me. My short arms make it hard to catch my ankles behind me, and sometimes I stress about this so much that I sweat more, which causes my hands to slip off my ankles, thereby perpetuating the stress. Generally this works best if I do the catch calmly, without thinking about what a pain in the ass it is to have short arms and legs.

I managed to get through both repetitions successfully. Most backbends light up the spine and open the heart chakra. This time I think the pose blasted that chakra wide open. The openness stayed with me through savasana. I felt empty, transparent, a tunnel for the grief and pain of thousands of survivors. It was scary, but for a few seconds it was also perfectly OK.

So after reading Jill’s notes about the position of grieving (which tends to bring me down all day due to the work I do in front of a computer) the experience made a lot more sense. I generally like backbends anyway – this will be another way to focus, and another way to get away from the shut-down sensation of crappy posture.

At any rate, I think morning practice will be better if I spend more time warming up. Using some of the asana and flows I learned in the Saturday morning classes has been helpful, and adds a new element of self-awareness and self-confidence (such as it is.)

I wonder if Duckie will sleep long enough to let me practice tomorrow morning, too.

Speaking of tomorrow, it’s gonna be nuts, and fun, and wonderful. Wish us luck.

*Darned if I can find the link now.

1 comment:

Yogamum said...

I really do find that my mind is in a better space for yoga in the morning -- not so much built up tension and clutter. The body is a whole 'nother story!