Monday, July 19, 2010

Peak Experience (In Three Parts)

"Every moment is the peak experience of your life." - Diane, Week 5


1.  Friday, July 16th

On Friday afternoon, I taught my last class in Fresno, after a week of teaching doubles there every day.  The class started at 3:45pm, and it was the smallest class I taught all week, with only 12 students.  All of them had already taken my class earlier in the week, and I knew almost everyone by name.

It was a slightly mellow afternoon class, but it was a strong one.  Standing series moved pretty quickly - smooth, efficient, relaxed.  I loved having the smaller class size, because I could actually see each individual body.  Without thinking about it too much, I started throwing in little bitty individual corrections here and there - feet 2 inches closer, leg down 1 inch, hips down more, more, little more, and there!  Right there!  Hold it!  Yesss, that's it.

I remember that in separate leg head to knee pose, I told the students that they really have to get the forehead touching the knee, and I saw one gentleman in front of me who was struggling to do it, but not quite getting there.  In the next set, I told him to open his legs more.  It's a simple correction, straight from the dialogue.  It worked - he touched his forehead.  But the great part was when he came up out of the posture with this look of discovery on his face and blurted out, "That helps!!"

I don't remember too much of what I said, but I remember having an easy rapport with the class.  I knew that we were connecting and that the instructions were getting through.  I don't know how I can tell, but that connection is so tangible.  When it's missing, you know, and it kind of sucks.  When it's there, you know, and it's awesome.

Just one week earlier, I'd written in my teaching notebook that I couldn't even imagine giving individual corrections throughout a whole class.  Where would you start?  How do you know when to correct?  When not to correct?  Which students are doing the most they can, and which students can do more?  But one week and a dozen classes later, I found myself starting to do it without even thinking about it.  I just knew what to do.  Which is such a weird solution, right?  If someone had told me, "Oh, you'll just know," I would have said, "Well, thanks a lot!"  That's like asking me to believe in the tooth fairy!  But it works.  It happens.  When I get in there, I know what to do.  Not all the time, but sometimes.

Bikram always asked us, "How do you know if something is right?"  The answer was, "If it WORKS, it's right."  When the students come out into the lobby, give me big smiles, totally worked out, totally relaxed, tell me that they learned something new, then I know that I'm doing my job right.  Because it's working.

It wasn't until hours later that a thought occurred to me: I probably just taught the best class of my life.  A month ago, I couldn't have taught anything like that.  Wow.  Progress.  It feels so good.

Peak experience.


2.  Saturday, July 17th

By a stroke of luck, I got the chance to spend a day hiking at Yosemite before driving back home on Sunday morning.  I went with two people who I'd met during the week, both students at the yoga studio.  One was the 22-year-old girl who had hosted me during the week, the other was an older guy who's practiced yoga for a few years and goes hiking and backpacking all the time.  We took a 22 mile round-trip hike from Yosemite Valley up to Cloud's Rest, a peak at almost 10,000 feet.  I'm pretty amazed that I was able to pull this off!  (All yoga.)

It was a hot, sunny day, perfect hiking weather.  The path started down in the valley near a river, and climbed up alongside a giant waterfall for the first hour or so.  We could feel the spray from the waterfall - it soaked us, actually! - and we could see the constant rainbow that was created over the stairs.  Then we continued up, past the waterfall, along the river, up into the tree, climbing higher and higher.  We stopped and snacked by a lake.  We saw some deer and some wild turkeys.  A butterfly landed on my friend's nose.

As we got higher, we had new views of the entire valley every time we turned the corner around another switchback.  I don't think I've ever used the word "WOW" so many times in my life.  Every time I looked at something, I just said "WOOWWW!"  Everything was so beautiful, it was almost impossible to process it all at once.

The last half mile ascent was tough - lots and lots of stairs, steep ones, in the sun - but when we got to the top, we had this amazing 360 degree panoramic view of all of Yosemite.  We could see the valley, the lakes, the mountains beyond the valley.  The sky.  I lay down on my back on the rock and watched falcons fly above my head.  One of them flew so close that I could see each feather on its wings, and I could hear the wind rustling in the feathers.

Peak experience.


3.  Monday, July 19th

After teaching class this afternoon, I spent about an hour scrubbing my bathroom.  Apparently, I'm not the world's cleanest person, because that was how long it took to get my shower all sparkly clean again!  I turned on the Jodhaa Akbar soundtrack for background music, a little piece of teacher training in my ear.  I opened all the windows, and still nearly got myself drunk after inhaling copious amounts fumes from the "Scrubbing Bubbles."  (Those work great, by the way.)  I just kept thinking, "That security deposit is mine!  One thousand dollars for a clean shower!"

I'm moving out of this house in less than two weeks, and the whole place needs to be returned to the relatively pristine state that it was in before I got my life all over it.  So this means that a good portion of this week will be devoted to cleaning and purging - throwing away extra junk, selling everything that I don't need, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  I spent the better part of my afternoon on my hands and knees in the bathroom, spraying various chemicals all over the place.

Peak experience??

Well, this one's not so obvious.  But sure!  Why not?  I mean, what am I really doing here, underneath the piles of Windexed paper towels?  I'm cleaning all the clutter, getting rid up all the build-up.  I'm getting ready to turn the page on a new chapter in my life.  I'm making a big change, yet again, and I just know that I am doing the right thing and moving in the right direction.  I'm heading to a new place when I can live my life as a yoga teacher.  Everything that I do right now moves me in that direction.  Even when I am just scrubbing the shower, I am doing my duty, my sacred work, my "right action."

What could be better?

So, yes.  I say yes.  Why the hell not?  If that's not a peak experience, then what is?!

Peak experience.

Definitely a peak experience.

No comments: