Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data




Today we did this.












And this.















And a little of this.








And some of us did this.

Others of us landed on our faces with our feet stuck behind our heads. It was awesome. The bruises on my ass are beginning to make themselves known.

There was a CBS camera crew filming this afternoon. It was a bit disconcerting, given that they showed up at the end of our 5-hour practice, so we were all wobbly and dehydrated and loony. We did a few minutes' quick demos of some of the prettier postures, Bikram barked charmingly, adjusted his Speedo and told a few dirty jokes, and that was that. Not sure where or when it's airing. I'd rather not see myself falling out of asanas sweaty and exhausted, anyway.

Advanced series is so different from the regular Bikram series. It's much less cardiovascular, much more intimate; it's quieter, more individually-driven, less authoritarian. At least, that's how it feels to me. Pretty much like a pleasant 2 hours of trying out party tricks with your most flexible buddies. Helping each other balance, adjust your grip, fix your pelvis, etc. It's kind of great. Easy. A natural camaraderie unrolls. You're all struggling with seemingly impossible asanas. You're all falling on your faces. And Bikram sits and watches and listens, lets you fall, get back in; there's a different spirit of experimentation, a trust that you as a veteran know what you're doing with your body; a resting. There's almost a vinyasa flow feeling in the beginning of the series in the Salute to the Gods and Goddesses and the Sun Salutations, followed by a lot of bendy Lotus work and balancing and whatnot, ad infinitum.

In surprising developments, I'm hardly sore anymore. This rocks. I definitely credit the pushing through the pain. It's such a better means for coping with soreness than backing off and leaving the torn muscles alone.

I'm sad to see the week nearing its end. I sat in the moonlight last night on the water listening to tropical birds hooting, working on some new writing projects, and the air was thick and warm and I felt so content and sore and lived-in. And then a gondola pulled up. No joke. (Where the hell am I?) Even now, sitting at my desk looking out the open patio door past my balcony, the mountains hover in the distance and the sun will be setting over them in just a few hours. Charmed life.

Emmy and Rajashree both headed back to LA after this morning's classes, so it's Bikram from here on out. I'm glad. Ready to get my ass kicked again tomorrow, both classes. I leaned back into Camel today to find peering at me from behind Rajashree herself, practicing in the back row, rocking the fuschia spandex. Love it.

I read an interesting mantra in a yogic theory book last night. So much of this philosophy emphasizes the letting-go process, the release, the emptying, the deconstructing; this theme is of course rich across Taoist and Buddhist and Hindu theologies alike, but I find it so central to this yogic project, too. Emptying the mind, clearing the body, flushing the nadis (energy meridians), lightening everything from so much kapha heaviness. And a natural extension of that lightening is an emphasis on childlike humor, the kind of wonder that doesn't take itself or the world too seriously, knowing how impermanent and constantly in flux every element of reality is. So this mantra reminds the meditator to set this intention: "Leave every room lighter than you found it."

How great is that? We've all known that person whose Eeyore energy brings a grave heaviness to a room. And we've all known his opposite, the kind of person whose presence lifts the vibe. Not because of some sunny-ass Pollyanna bullshit, but because they wield a certain lightness. You know what I mean: an openness to whimsy, a self-deprecating lilt. The kind of person who doesn't take herself, or this life, so goddamned seriously.

You can't help but practice that when you're stuck on your back with your feet behind your head like an overturned tortoise on the beach, abandoned. That's the natural built-in good humor of this yoga. When you're swimming in a pool of your own sweat and your ass is hanging out of your too-short shorts, it's just all gravy, then.

Comments

Matt said…
Here's a dumb question: do you think it's possible to "learn" the physical aspects of yoga via television? Or do you think it would be dangerous? Comcast "OnDemand" has a number of Yoga "tutorials" that I'd like to try out, because I don't have time or opportunity to take classes at the moment (stupid offspring!). Am I just going to injure myself?
Rach said…
Not a dumb question. I think you should absolutely try them out.

Don't push it, obviously - that's when the injuries happen - but you're smart and know your left from your right and your hand from your foot, which is about all you need to get going. ANY kind of yoga will be a good first step, whether it's on TV or in a class or via podcast. Just take it really slowly at first. You don't need a mat, either. A towel on the living room carpet would probably suffice.

DO IT! Everybody's gotta start somewhere. We were all beginners once. Insert further motivational bullshit here. Also, you might learn some nasty tricks that could come in handy elsewhere. Heh heh

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