Bending and belonging

This morning was set up to be a bit of a shaky practice. I went straight from an overnight shift and was feeling nauseated and totally exhausted. I went in with the attitude that whatever I could manage to do was enough. The vibe on Sunday is so lovely, everyone is relaxed and the earlier arrivals, like myself, set up and chat while we stretch before we do the opening chant as a group. One of my fellow practitioners (who I see everyday but whose name I don’t know) told me to just breathe and take it slow today, and I followed her advice. I have skipped purvottanasana every practice (besides led, obviously) since last Sunday and not even on purpose. I did it again today and realized much further along when I saw someone else do it. I had to laugh at myself because while I dislike the pose, I haven’t been leaving it out intentionally. I actually had a great practice. My sleepless state left my body pretty open. It took the strength and balance a while to come, but I got into a rhythm and was feeling pretty great. Sundays assistant is not afraid to be really hands on with everybody, so I got a little attention today in a few poses, which was nice. Supta kurmasana update: I rocked it today. I was able to come up and get my left leg behind my head. I didn’t really try to get the second leg back there, but did make an effort to get the feet crossed at the top of my head before coming down. I was able to get my fingers clasped, but they were too sweaty to fight the pull of my thighs and they let go. I think with assistance I would have totally had it this morning. I have high hopes for tomorrow! Moving on, my pulled neck was feeling ok today, but I’m still giving it a few days before I re-introduce chakrasana. I did all the other neck involved poses without difficulty. My intermediate poses flew by, until dhanurasana. My hip bones were really digging into the floor more than usual for some reason. Ouch. I was hoping to get laghu vajrasana today (I know, I know) but no dice. Maybe tomorrow? Drop backs were great today! Standing was so awesome and I had a nice deep assisted back bend with heels this close to getting to the floor. I was so tired that I was dozing in savasana, so home I went to “take rest.” I was so happy that I went despite how crappy I was feeling beforehand.

Something basic in our human nature longs to belong somewhere, and the Ashtanga community certainly provides that sense of community. I’ve often referred to my practice as my “secret morning club” because it is a fairly small group of us who choose to wake up before dawn to go contort our bodies into strange and unnatural positions before rejoining the rest of the world for the day. I’ve lamented to fellow practitioners the lack of a secret handshake and laughed about how, from an objective, outside perspective, the whole mysore thing is pretty dang strange. There’s something about that that’s appealing to me, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. When I first started going to AYO, I was intimidated and didn’t know anyone else. Fast forward seven or eight months later, and I may not know most of the people by name, but we’ve exchanged pleasantries and shared some challenge/encouragement at some point. I experience the comfort of familiarity and a supportive environment now, which I never expected to happen that first week. I no longer think that any of the feelings/frustrations I encounter are novel, or even unusual. I love that. All of these things contribute to what keeps me coming back day after day, and loving it.

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