Yesterday, I promoted myself to the middle row so I could get a better eye-line to the mirror with my piss-poor eyesight (The Bikram Yoga Rock Stars all inhabit the *front* row). A rockstar I'm not, but I figured that I have enough of a handle on the series and transitions now not to confuse the people behind me.
I always wondered about those mirrors, but it's not vanity. Truly! No one looks good after 90 minutes in a hot room. Sweat-shiny skin, mussed hair, and beet-red faces peer back at us from the mirror. It's definitely not an ego-enhancing experience. The mirror is all about alignment. Can you see your foot emerging from the top of your head in Floor Bow? No? Kick up!
But seriously, the HEAT! How could I have missed this? It's always been hot, but today felt extreme. I was soaked in sweat before the class even began and felt alternately dizzy and nauseous through the floor poses. Even Savasana felt miserable.
As I was leaving the room, I noticed one of the Bikram Yoga Rock Stars laying in Savasana on the floor outside the room. I asked another Rock Star and she concurred: it was unusually hot, even by Bikram standards. Relief! I'm glad it wasn't just me!
It's the end of another year and I feel moved to acknowledge it. If I were to choose a word to describe 2010, it would be: 'unpredictable'. It wasn't a great year, but it wasn't a bad one either. It was challenging, painful and heartbreaking, but also surprising, uplifting and a year of great growth both personally and in my yoga practice.
I wrote a whole list of resolutions in January and it turned into a bit of a joke; didn't accomplish a single one. Instead, I did a number of things I never would have anticipated or predicted.
For example, I *never* would have predicted that I would go to a shala, let alone practise at one for 5 months. It was a huge adjustment for me, but I learned a lot.
And one shala led to another, and another. By the end of the year, I had practised Mysore-style across the city, attended workshops and made friends far and wide. I've connected to the Astanga community in my city and I greatly value that.
After years of a touch-and-go meditation, I finally returned to daily practice. It's become one of the things that truly sustains me during tough times and I would no sooner skip mediation than I would skip brushing my teeth. I truly feel that my daily Astanga practice has led me to this turn in my meditation practice.
Studying with Kino was something I had always wanted to do, but never thought I would have the opportunity. Then, surprise!, she showed up in my city. Awesome! Her workshops were spectacular and I learned so much.
Back in 2008, I added "Drop back into Urdhva Dhanurasana" to my list of resolutions, then I never even started. This year, my shala experience gave me the push I needed to explore different methods of learning this action. For me, working on a slope was the key and summer was the time. During my daily walks to the park, I dropped back to a hill, gradually moving to a flat surface. A backbending workshop at Shala North sealed the deal.
A spontaneous summer road trip offered the opportunity to study with certified teachers for the first time, an item on my Astanga wish list that wasn't on my radar for 2010. I learned a lot in those two days, and still more in a subsequent workshop with those same teachers. These experiences were life-changing and the whole of my teaching and practice has been transformed. Their approach to the practice resonates deeply with me. I have no idea how this will play out long-term, but I feel that I've 'found my teachers'.
And then there were the injuries...
My first injury came as a shock. It happened at Shala Central in July. It took over 5 months for that torn left hamstring to heal and every practice was a learning experience. My right shoulder went out during another shala visit. I practised through the hamstring injury, but the rotator cuff kept getting worse even with modifications.
Which leads me to my final unpredicted event of 2010: Bikram's Yoga. I wanted to continue daily practice as my shoulder injury healed. Hot Yoga seemed like a good compromise. I'll be starting the New Year in the hot room and will hopefully return to my Astanga practice in February.
2011 is already shaping into an interesting year and it hasn't even started yet! I have a feeling my life and my practice will continue to be 'unpredictable' and I'm starting to feel very comfortable with this state of affairs!
If I were to choose a word or phrase for the coming year, it would be 'light', both in the sense of vision and feeling. I want to bring a lightness and ease to my practice, learn to see people and events in a more positive light, but also let go of people, obligations and things that are weighing me down.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading my blog. I would have never predicted how much this blog would grow in 2010 (there it is, that word again!) or how many people would join my community of readers.
You bring out my best as a writer and you motivate me in my yoga practice. I know that not all of you comment here, but that's okay! It's enough to know you're out there, reading my words. It's meaningful to me. I felt a great many emotions in 2010, but I could never feel entirely alone with such a great community behind me.
Thank you for being my community, my friends and my support network. I hope the New Year brings all of us joy, challenge and success!
(Princess Fur opens up a holiday gift. Very exciting! It was a bone!)
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