Following on from my recent downward dog tired post, I think (hope) I reached the nadir yesterday, and that it’s onwards and upwards from now on. We have had two days off and so I thought I’d be full of beans, refreshed for beginning classes again. However, when pranayama class loomed I was already feeling sulky and rebellious, not really wanting to be there. It all seemed too much like hard work and I just wanted to rest.
Then as I prepared to go to back-bending class in the evening, my mood deteriorated further. My body still felt awfully stiff, not helped by the long moped drive in the chilly dark the previous night. My left hamstring was playing up, feeling like it was teetering on the edge of going ‘ping’. But, above all, I was in a foul mood…
Generally I have what you might call a ‘sunny disposition’ – yes, I am prone to bouts of sadness and melancholy that pass through my life like scudding, black clouds, but rarely am I grumpy or angry and I generally tend to hold an optimistic view of life (except whilst the black clouds hover overhead). However, yesterday I felt a rising anger that had no particular target: sometimes it was directed at myself, for being injured, pathetic and feeble; sometimes it was aimed at yoga (‘why the hell am I putting myself through all this?!’); but, mostly, it was just chucked out at the world in general, like an amorphous cloud of poison gas, expanding to fill whatever space it’s in.
In back-bending class I veered from fuming (at Vinay, at the postures, at myself) to tearful and sad. It was very odd. I felt like a stranger in my own mind and body and I still don’t quite know what it was all about. No doubt it was a combination of factors including tiredness and injury, with hormones definitely in the mix, but still – it was such an unusual state for me to be in. Even if my mood is a bit flat, I am generally able to man up and apply myself to the situation I find myself in – but not yesterday. I didn’t try in any of the postures and I even found myself deliberately shallow breathing as Vinay encouraged us to ‘breathe well’ – who was this petulant child that had possessed me?!
The negative mood still lingered this morning, as I reluctantly trudged to Vijay’s shala to begin ashtanga classes again after the break – I clearly had an anger-over (the nearest thing I’m likely to get to a hang-over in Mysore). I had horrible feelings that I was at a cross-roads with yoga, ready to sack it all off.
But then we arrived at the shala, and there was the usual crowd, some smiling, some introspective, but all there to continue to graft away at their practice. Then there was Vijay, with his dazzling smile, namaste-ing us (can that be a verb?!) as we entered, no shadow of preoccupation on his face despite his no doubt intense previous couple of days meeting his future in-laws. Then there was the previous batch leaving the shala, with that look of calm good-will/knackeredness that I know so well. I felt my hardness melt slightly.
I told Vijay about my injuries and he smiled and told me to take it easy, to modify. A little bit more of my hard edge crumbled away. Then, as I moved through the familiar sequence, I felt my body start to open up and my ill mood gradually fade until I was just present with my breath, with the postures. It wasn’t my best practice in the world physically, but it really felt like one of the best emotionally – it was like a balm, soothing my furrowed brow.
Afterwards, as we chanted ‘aum shanti, shanti, shantihi’ to close the class, I felt a smile rise on my lips with each shanti. I had made it through. I am hopeful that this has been my low point, as I adjust to the intense daily rigours of practice – as with any kind of cleansing/purification system, toxins will be released, and perhaps that’s what it was: a whole load of s*** that I don’t need being released into the ether.
Only time will tell but, for now, back-bending class here I come, and today I will certainly ‘breathe well’ like I’ve never breathed well before!