Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day one, part two

So I set up in the front row, and kind of felt lame doing so. I didn't want to be "that girl," that person who waltzes into a studio like she owns the place without paying any kind of dues. I asked the woman who was already set up a little back and to my right if my mat was OK, and said I didn't want to be rude, to which she replied, "It's just yoga." I like being in the front because I can work on my wonky alignment, and I like the extra little bit of pressure to not slack when there are new students behind me.

But by awkward pose, I was having a hard time. Head pounding, difficulty keeping my breathing calm and under control. So I backed off a bit in both sets of each posture. Diane, who is warm and funny and makes you kick your own ass while you have no idea what's going on, gave me a great correction in Standing Head to Knee pose about standing up straighter before I begin to kick out. I'm fortunate to have something to remember, some nugget to take away from this class. Hell, I'm lucky I remember anything from this class.

I wanted to do a strong Standing Bow Pulling Pose — it's one of my favorite postures and on most days, I can do it pretty well. :) I thought that if I could do that strongly, it'd give me confidence, energy and momentum to keep going and head into the spine-strengthening series feeling good. By the time the second set of the posture was over, I was happy to count 10 seconds standing on one foot. Diane did mention something about me having a stronger Standing Bow after the correction in the previous posture — gonna have to revisit that connection soon.

A few more postures of barely hanging in there; I think I only managed one set of everything through Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee (including a Triangle that I was very proud of). Then Tree. I met my eyes in the mirror and tried to concentrate on them as everything else just fuzzed out. Come on, Catherine, you can stand up. Just breathe... Breathe, you can do this, I kept telling myself. But I couldn't. I couldn't even just stand there. I've fainted a couple times in my life, and this was really close to that. So I knelt down, for both Tree and Toe Stand, and the tears came. Were they because of the pain in my chest? Head? Frustration at not being a yoga rock star? Embarrassment for setting up in the first row, then sucking? Probably (e), all of the above.

I had had these grand intentions of dedicating my practice. To victims of the earthquake in Haiti. To people everywhere who fight for human rights. To healing for my cousin, who is recovering from getting hit by an SUV last month in L.A.

But nothing could have been further from my mind. I felt like I just had to survive the class, which is, of course, totally ridiculous in hindsight. But that opened the gateway to letting go, and that led to compassion. One post in this Bikram 101 blogging ring talks about this, with direction from a quote by Rolf Gates. "When we let go of something, our hand opens and we are able to receive." This could apply to so many things in the last three years of my life, but right now, it can just be about the yoga.

I took it easy through the rest of class, doing every posture, despite my growing sense that at any moment a hole would surely open up right in the middle of my chest, and some monster would crawl out of the base of my esophagus and join us for Half-Tortoise pose.

I was parched, but thought water would only worsen my digestive discomfort. It took about 15 minutes to normalize my heart rate after class. Judy came back into the studio, all cool skin and chill energy, and wrapped herself around me before rubbing my back. Luckily for me, Audrey dumped electrolytes into my water bottle as I staggered around the lobby.

I knew the ladies and their respective companions and I were going out, but a few more people joined us for dinner at Local Burger, a cool little spot. Turns out that of eight people, I was one of two nonteachers there. Diane went, and even though I wasn't sitting near her, she just bubbled with enthusiasm and positive energy. I'm dying to take more classes from her.

The studio's former owner, Charlie, was there too, and was fun to talk with over sweet potato fries. Stephanie, the woman I'd set up in front of, owns a studio near Las Vegas, Bikram Yoga Summerlin. At least two of the blogs I read have mentioned these teachers or studios, so I felt even more tied in to this amazing community.

Despite feeling like I had a horrible class and I didn't do anything physical, I'm still sore 48 hours later. And my guts are feeling a little better. There are so many reasons to do this yoga. Monday night reminded me of them. Can't wait to practice tonight.


  1. Well holy CRAP this is a small world! I grew up in Northampton, practiced there tons of times, and am good friends with Charlie and Diane. And I was ALWAYS!! the token non-teacher at the group lunches. (I guess you might already know that if you've read my blog.) Yes, they are good people. They are pretty much my favorite people EVER. I'm dying to meet Audrey! I was back home during Christmas but flew back to Cali about a week before Audrey got in. Hopefully I'll get to meet her this year - am really hoping to TEACH there at some point, since the next time I visit home I will finally be a teacher! Diane said I will love to teach for Audrey.

    Sorry for rambling... got excited. :)

  2. Crazy small world - where in Cali are you? I grew up there. :)

    From reading your blog it sounds like you are super into the dialogue (understatement much?), and so is Audrey. I envision many long discussions between you two of what this and that mean. And I actually thought of you and dialogue (and cute drawings) tonight while listening to the CD, when he mentioned 360-degree angle stretching. :)

    Thanks for stopping by!

    (OMG I have my first comment! Hahah, I feel a little silly being excited. And here I thought I was just talking to myself. Squeeee!)

  3. Yay first comment!! Writing is a great exercise for its own sake, but blogging gets REALLY fun when you start getting visitors. I couldn't believe it when people who i didn't know started reading my blog!! I'm following you now. ;-)

    I'm in Santa Barbara at the moment. Been trying to explore Cali while I'm out here. It's a whole smorgasboard of yoga! Hehe.

    And yep, I am such a dialogue girl. I was very well trained out there in Boston - they know their dialogue and they use it SO well. I aspire to teach like Diane. I know I'll have fun with Audrey. Charlie was great, too... he gets the credit for teaching me to say "create pressure with your left foot sole against the right leg bicep of the thigh muscle." I LOVE that you remembered my drawings!!!!!!

    xoxo, J