Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ebb in Flow


Sherman was teaching Power Yoga this morning, but over in the corner, I was in a cage match with my mind, emotional state, and left ankle.

It all started last Wednesday after practice. Riding the bus downtown, I was watching a large and aggressively strange woman act out by refusing to move to the back of the bus. I was so busy ragging on her in my mind that, when I squeezed by her to get out the door, I stepped down and landed on the side of my foot. If I hadn't been as loose as Gumby after class, it probably would have broken, but it was only a sprained ankle. Since then, upward dog is impossible, and I'm skittish about most things on my left side, but I'm still practicing.

I feel like a wimp, though. And coupled with that, I went to the doctor on Friday and weighed myself when I was alone in the room. I feel like I've lost 20 pounds, maybe more, based on my clothes. Haven't lost an ounce. I could have cried, but there was nobody to cry to, so I just sagged, and have stayed saggy ever since. I am slipping into the slough of despond.

Sherman has added some new elements to his class -- and I'm feeling challenged, but I'm also feeling like the needy red-headed stepchild. A disappointment where I was once an inspiration. Stuck.

I know from past experience that my practice ebbs and flows. Some days I can't do anything. Then the next day, for no apparent reason, I feel stronger than ever. I know the key is to show up and trust the practice. I know that I am not the number on the scale. I know that I am in the middle of huge changes in my life and work and diet -- none of which can be ignored. I'm even growing out my hair, and tapering down on my Zoloft. I'm trying new things in every area -- although I plan to keep my awesome boyfriend just as he is. The mountain must eventually move. Right?

So why did I feel like a disappointment in class today? Well, besides my lame cobra modification in up dog and some technical difficulties with my back foot in Warrior One -- Sherman has begun suggesting split forearm stand. I've been thinking about the mechanics -- and I get that it will be easier when I hit the full pose, but I'm paralyzed with fear at the prospect of getting into it. Today I was in regular pincha, and Sherman told me to bend my back leg -- but, being upside down, I couldn't figure out what that meant until it was too late. Disappointment. I felt like I let him down.

We've also been working on going from rock star pose into a full wheel -- and I'm sure I can do this, but I can't figure out how to turn my bottom shoulder so that I don't snap my arm off. I suspect I'm supposed to turn my bottom hand but when? Homework.

Then there's my post-traumatic bridge syndrome. We're beginning to go from shoulder stand into bridge then full wheel. I believe the trick is to work one's hands up the back close to the shoulder blades. I was working on this several years ago and seriously torqued my wrists and thumbs -- no lasting damage, just an unforgettable shooting pain, the memory of which haunts me. So I weasel out in this bit, squishing around on my mat... pretending. Disappointing.

Speaking of mechanics, we're also working on Eka Pada Koundiyanasana II. Needless to say, the below picture from is not me.

It's an insane arm balance, but I think I can manage it strengthwise. It's a matter of where I put my weight. Right now I can't lift my back leg off the floor. It feels as if it's encased in cement. Today after class I watched another student get instruction in the pose, and I realized that he works his front leg way up toward his elbow. That may make a difference with weight distribution. We'll see.

So where to go from here? Liposuction? Fat camp? The sideshow? Back up to 100 mg of Zoloft? Not yet. I'll stick it out a little bit longer, and get back on the mat.

After class, I finished Dani Shapiro's Devotion, while consoling myself with an Other Caesar Salad at Peacefood Cafe. She writes about yoga and faith. The book got me thinking about a statue my father bought many years ago. It is, I'm sure, very old. A Buddhist acolyte gazing at his unseen teacher in devotion. Where Buddha statues are covered with jewels and mirrors, the acolyte -- James, as I named him when I was a kid -- is simple and unadorned. Before I knew what meditation, yoga, Buddhism or pretty much anything else was, I would sit on the floor beside him and simply breathe. There is something sacred about James, the statue of the eternal student, that has always spoken to me. Maybe he's telling me to calm down and listen for the teaching. After all, James has been sitting in my mother's house for 35 years, and he's still listening.

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