Friday, November 14, 2008

another friday night with bill

Moyers, that is. Though I have almost an hour until he arrives in my living room via Southern Oregon Public TV.

As the mercury drops, the attendance at our studio skyrockets. I could probably start charging money to hold spots open for regular students at this point. Next week we add two more classes to the schedule to accommodate the crush of cold-weather Bikram fans. (These would be the antithesis to fair-weather friends, I reckon.)

I am trying to stay positive, given how much more time I now have to spend at the studio. As the schedule expands, I have more demands, so to speak, from my staff. I am the only person with a "flexible" schedule, so I get to teach all the shit classes no one else wants. Hurray for me! How's that for working for yourself?! Woo!

I experienced a complete lack of pain in my once-injured, now-hampered shoulder. This was my first pain-free day since we returned home from our vacation in August. Tremendous. I acknowledged the lack of pain as I practiced yesterday, trying to keep from hyperventilating in class from the joy of unencumbered movement. I then proceeded to teach a class at warp speed. Amazingly it was a small class; only five students. Usually small classes require so much more energy on my part to keep things moving. On this night I had four regulars (one fellow in the cold-weather crew, whom I hadn't seen in months) and one visitor from out of town. Everyone was so strong I felt like I didn't even need to be there. I didn't have to supply the energy; they had more than enough to share. I imagine my joy at my healing shoulder also helped propel the class.

This morning, however... well, the pain wasn't back in full. My shoulder did pipe up a time or three, reminding me to practice some more patience. Instead I woke feeling tremendously dizzy, as I would after a night of drinking. Except last night I didn't drink. It took everything I had to keep myself upright as class began. I literally made contact with every inch of both feet, commanding them to stay connected to the floor. I let go of performance anxiety, focusing more on keeping my breath calm and staying on my feet. Eventually the dizziness passed, and I finished strong. That put me in a good mood. And I need to be in a good mood, considering I'm teaching the next four classes straight. Yikes.

First of four this afternoon. Ten students, including one newbie who wasn't new to yoga so she already had lots to say about the practice before it even started. Fortunately she kept an open mind and gave an honest effort.

I find myself dancing on this thin line between being a taskmistress and flaunting my anarchic self. Problem is: freedom of expression can look a lot like hippie dancing, if you choose to look through those lenses. I know I've written before about finding some freedom within discipline. I think what needs to be redefined is "discipline" itself. We can insist on the first entry in Merriam-Webster's dictionary, which defines discipline as "punishment." Or, we can drop in and choose one of these three:

4: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
5 a: control gained by enforcing obedience or order b: orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior c: self-control
6: a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity

The first definition on that list can also define yoga itself. Not just hatha yoga (the physical practice) but all eight limbs. We practice our yoga to reacquaint ourselves with our true bodies and minds, to "correct" the shitty training we've received in self-loathing and doubt.

Speaking of the eight limbs, the second definition on that list can almost fit for Pratyahara, the fifth of the eight limbs. It is open referred to as "withdrawal of the senses." It is here that one can meditate without distractions, achieving the ultimate in self-control. With practice, one can effectively focus on one singular sense (hearing, for example) at the expense of the other senses in an effort to quiet the mind altogether.

As for the final definition... suddenly I'm feeling like this entry is too long. I should tackle this some more later.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

do i contradict myself?

29 students this morning. WTF?! Makes sense, I reckon, as today was really our first legit autumn day. Woke up this morning to grey skies and drizzle.

But 29 students? Damn. Days like these unnerve me a bit, considering we have a small studio. 29 students back east in the big cities feels like a small class. 29 students here means no extra room for anyone, including the teacher. A few students expressed concern about the crowded room. I always worry that a large class will lead to disappointed students.

And I am always wrong.

Yes, the room got hot. Yes, people had to adjust some, especially for full locust. But everyone left the room smiling. Several students complimented me as they left for the day.

Even with my worries, I fucking love teaching big classes. Sure, it's swell now that I own the place to see all those paying customers. Before that, though, I loved teaching a full room. With all those bodies in the room, it is damned near impossible to have a dull, slow class. It's the larger classes that give some credence to all the hippie bullshit about people's energy. As people move and breathe that movement and breath will affect those around them. (Hopefully in positive ways.) I get more from the students in larger classes, I think, than they do from me.

We also had a visiting teacher come to practice. He had heard good things about the studio from other travelers, and definitely felt the advanced praise was true. He also invited me to teach at the studio where he teaches when I travel.

All that said... I still can't shake this nagging feeling that buying the studio was not a good idea. And right now I don't care to elaborate further.