Did you know that forgetting the dialogue makes you better at your postures?
There's a little truism which says that you teach the way you practice. This is a pretty logical statement, and I've definitely witnessed it in action many times! This statement also suggest that, when I'm practicing practicing the dialogue and trying to remember all the instructions, the bits that I forget to say are probably the bits that I'm forgetting to do. This is one of my favorite side-effects of dialogue study. Every time I have trouble remembering a line, I dig up another detail that I need to pay better attention to in my personal practice!
My absolute favorite so far has been a line in Standing Head to Knee: "You should feel tremendous stretching underneath both legs, create cramp on top of the thigh." I went through a whole string of postures a week or two ago, and that was the one line that I completely forgot about. So I said to myself, "Hmmmm. I sure am using the top of the thigh on my kicking leg, but am I really using it as much as possible? Am I actually trying to create a cramp?"
Big surprise: I totally was not. I was just kinda hanging out a little bit. It would look exactly the same to any teacher (except for maybe one of the psychic ones), but the intent to actually create cramp was not there. Guess what happened when I started trying to create a cramp? The answer is NOT! "I got a cramp." The answer is, "I got about 500x more stable going into and out of the full expression of standing head to knee." Whaddaya know.
I like this idea of trying to create cramp, because it's counter-intuitive. In most activities, you try to avoid a cramp. If you get a cramp when you're running, you might have to stop running. If you get a cramp when you're swimming in the ocean, you die! But if you get a cramp in yoga, it means you're doing good. (Though you might want to eat a banana later.)
I love these directions that tell us to move towards discomfort. There's a similar instruction in the beginning of class, in half moon: "You are trying to create a tremendous stretching feeling..." Especially when you're new to it, stretching doesn't feel so good. Like a muscle cramp, it's an unpleasant feeling that you would rather avoid. But you have to try to create that feeling; you have to actually look for it and invite it into your body. Eventually, it will feel natural and good. These are the sensations of change and growth in your body. But at first, moving towards discomfort this way will seem like a crazy and radical thing to do.
"Create tremendous stretching." "Create cramp." "Shoulders are supposed to hurt." "Make sure your back hurts." What's the point of these instructions? Your teachers don't want to hurt you! They just want you to inhabit that uncomfortable place where change can happen, instead of following your instincts and running away from it. Change is always uncomfortable, and often painful. It's so much easier to stay the way we are. Stay in the same posture. Stay in the same job, the same relationship, the same apartment, the same city. It's easier that way. But in yoga, we practice moving into discomfort, and we find out that it's not such a scary place after all. (You thought it was going to hurt, but instead it made your body feel better.)
In other words, we learn courage. One Standing Head-to-Knee at a time.