"...it becomes easy."
Huh. That was not the answer I expected. And it came from a post-class discussion with Juan, the mastermind of the awesome bloodbath class that I talked about in my last entry. This is the guy who tried to make us miserable just so that we would fight. But after all, my favorite dichotomy in Bikram yoga has always been: "Take it easy, sweetheart"/ "KILL YOUR SELF!" So I think he is onto something here.
Back on track: I am not saying (now or ever) that you don't have to struggle in yoga class. Of course you do. You have to struggle harder. Kill your self! But the thing is, on the other side of the struggle, there is something else, someplace quiet. Easy. Like fighting through a tornado and abruptly finding yourself in the eye of the storm. That's the whole reason why we struggle. We're not just beating our head against a brick wall here, not for no reason. Maybe we are hitting our heads again bricks sometimes... but it's not a wall, it's a door!
I took one surfing lesson when I first moved out to California. I sucked at the paddling parts. But I was really struck by the experience of standing up on the surfboard. It's like this: you're in the water, paddling like a maniac, working like crazy, and it's really loud, the surf is in your ears, the water choppy, the water is in your ears, you set yourself up, you push up on the board... and then suddenly, stillness. Quiet. Suspended animation. After all that struggle and work and noise, you are suddenly, unexpectedly, in this totally calm state of balance, standing there like you're just standing on the street, as the ocean moves under you. It reminded me of yoga.
I think we've all had little tastes of this in our personal practice. Third part of awkward, anyone? It's a bitch if you've got bad knees, but otherwise, once you figure out the mechanics, it's a piece of (cheese)cake. Emmy said at seminar that "this is a wonderful posture for meditation" because "it's the easiest one in the series." If you haven't felt the ease in this posture, I bet you've found it in another one, in a posture that you had to struggle to achieve at first but that you do now without a second thought. Think of that. Now imagine being able to do the whole series that way. What a thought...
I remember at the judge's clinic (at seminar again), there was a discussion of how long competitors need to hold their balancing postures. One person's answer was so good that it basically ended the entire discussion. He said, "When the judge knows you could hold it forever if you want, the posture is done." So the posture finishes, and begins, when it is controlled. Calm. Easy.
I've been thinking about this for the last couple of days, especially in standing head to knee, of all postures! That one has always been my nemesis. The last part stresses me out. I'm fully capable of doing it and holding it, but as I was saying on hannahjustbreathe the other day, it is the ultimate mind-fuck. I make myself fall all the time. But lately, I've been going into it with a mindset of "fight back, fight harder" along with "it's so easy," and wow. Today in class, I went into the final position, somehow relaxed, took a couple breaths, and then came out step by step when I decided I was done. Both sides. I am knocking on wood right now, big time!! But it was pretty cool.
One of my favorite moments in Bikram's first book is when he talks about how it can be frightening at first to freeze in a posture with no one to help you, nowhere to go except inwards. He says, "don't fright, don't scare. It is so peaceful in there, so good for your mind and your body to forget the outside world for this time you do Yoga. You hear my words now, but I know you don't understand them yet. That's okay. You got to feel the understanding happening in yourself, like a flower unfolding, to understand."
Further up and further in...