Monday, January 4, 2010

Your Own Worst Enemy

"Juliana, in pirouettes you are your own worst enemy to yourself!!" ~ Awesome Russian ballet teacher to me, many years ago
Here's a fun observation on my own practice.

Yesterday morning I was super tired and uninspired in class.  I just couldn't wake myself up and wasn't really "feeling it."  (You know, with these challenges... sometimes you start strong, and sometime you start slooooow!)  I fell out of the first set of standing head to knee QUITE a few times, which is pretty much unheard of for me, and didn't even have the energy to care.  One of those classes where you do every posture, but you're mentally dragging yourself by your fingernails every time.

Usually when I feel this way it's a sign that I'm getting sick, and sure enough, I felt even crappier for the rest of the afternoon and woke up feeling like uuuuuuuuuuggggggggh.  So naturally, my aspirations for my morning practice today were low.  I went into the corner of the room and totally gave myself permission to just take a "hot nap" the entire time.

Whaddaya know - I ended up having a totally decent class!

The most interesting part of the class was the balancing series.  I had just taken everything slowly during the warm-up, being very precise, working veeeery gradually into full depth, and not thinking about anything.  Our newest teacher was leading the class, and since she is fresh from training I think she has the best dialogue at the studio right now, so I just listened to her.  My brain was off.  Too tired to bother.  And guess what?  Standing head to knee was totally successful.  No falling whatsoever in the first set, and in the second set I got my head on my knee, held it for a good long time, and somehow came out exactly the reverse of the way I went in (which is something that I still tend to fudge even on my "good" days, though I'm getting better).  And standing bow pulling, which has been SUCH a love-hate-but-mostly-hate posture for me recently, was totally fine.  I've been in this phase where I get stressed out about this posture (there are reasons, but it's a long story), and it just makes things 100 times worse.  Today I just did the freaking posture, no drama whatsoever, et voila.  Not a problem.

I liked this.  It was a new way of proving an old idea: when you get your own mind out of the way, the yoga just does its work.  If you start thinking too much, you become "your own worst enemy to yourself."  (I love that redundant turn of phrase.)  Borrowing Bikram's terminology, I could rephrase that and say that "your self is the worst enemy to your Self."  Some days, you have to become a body without a brain.

Of course this only truly works if the teacher sticks to the dialogue without adding too many additions, subtractions, and incorrect "corrections"... but that is a messy topic for another day!


bikramyogachick said...

The thing that really hit me about this post is the last paragraph...this only truly works if the teacher sticks to the dialog. I had a rough class yesterday made worse by a teacher who teaches two forms of yoga now and was NOT doing dialog whatsoever. She was trying to explain the posutres and english is not her first language. You should have heard the crap going on in my poor little head. I about lost it and left the room. Thankfully I stayed and did a bit of a hot nap at the end. :)

thedancingj said...

OH YEAH, I hear you. I could talk about that A LOT. I mostly avoid the topic because it's hard to bring it up without badmouthing teachers, and I don't like to do that in public. I've made a big effort to focus my attention on talking about what IS in the dialogue, instead of ranting about all the crap I hear sometimes that isn't even CLOSE to the dialogue!

Dorothy said...

I know the teacher of whom Michelle speaks. I've always had difficulty with her classes - even when she only taught Bikram. I think it has a lot to do with English not being her first language. I commend her ability to speak another language at all, but I think it's a barrier that needs addressing.

Danielle said...

Funny how that works. Every time I go into class with zero expectations, I always end up rocking it. Much the opposite as well, like in last night's class, I had a teacher I have never had before. So I thought, "I'm gonna work my butt off and kick some ass." (It's funny how we want to "impress", eh?) Well, it ended up taking me down! You can psyche yourself up for defeat sometimes!

The Yolk said...

I've noticed that you love love the dialog! I dig that. But am I getting from your current post that you don't like it when teachers deviate at all? Or only when they deviate in a not-so-good way? ;-)

My studio owner rocks the dialog but ad-libs a lot. She's got a really deep understanding of the body as well as the more metaphysical aspects of the yoga, and she brings that knowledge in from time to time. She's just the goddess! I love getting something a little different! But deviating from the dialog isn't always for the best, is it?

thedancingj said...

I love how you guys pretty much just responded to the post that I DIDN'T write! Haha. I guess I need to write a dialogue post again sometime this month. Yes, I LOVE the dialogue! It's a great tool. I don't want my teachers to be "dialogue-bots," I just want them to KNOW the dialogue! If they know it inside out (and bones to skin), then I love hearing their extra knowledge. My problem is when teachers go away from the dialogue WITHOUT taking the time to understand it first, because then invariably they end up getting tons of things WRONG. I can write on this later. ;)

Rebekah said...

I understand this post completely! I got bronchitis the day before the challenge started. I have gone into every class with the idea that I just needed to go easy on myself. I even hid in the back corner a time or two. And, besides Day 6, I've had some really strong classes. It's nice just to give yourself a break from expectations. Even though we're never really supposed to have them, are we?

Cat said...

LOVE when you have some doubts and you wind up having a great class!! Expect nothing and gain everything! You're doing great!