"Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but...life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves."
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
I have increasingly come to feel that Garcia Marquez's words here describe my practice very well. There is no one day or one practice which "gives birth to" and defines what my practice is for me once and for all; rather, life (and the continuous changes in my mental and physical state that it brings up) obliges me to continually do the practice, and in so doing, redefine and give birth to new understandings of what the practice means to me.
I felt this especially strongly during this morning's practice. For some reason, I felt really worn-out and tired when I woke up this morning, and the prospect of doing my usual daily practice (full primary and second up to pincha mayurasana) was very... unappealing, to say the least. I'm not entirely sure why I was so tired (I went to bed at a reasonable hour last night). Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I went to that Moon Day class in Minneapolis on Sunday (see this post) rather than take rest (Moral of the story: Always take rest on Moon Days. You need it, even if you don't think you do.)
When one is tired in the mornings, one's options stand out in sharp relief against one another. At the moment when I was preparing to step onto the mat, it was either (1) go back to bed, or (2) step onto the mat and practice anyway, and see if I can find a way to iron out the tiredness from my limbs and joints. There is no in-between.
I chose (2), and am glad I did. The first couple of Surya As were kind of rough, but when I got to Surya B, I quite literally felt that I had a new body. There's something about working with a physically tired body that forces you to pay attention to every little sensation that comes up in the course of the practice. In this case, the first time I came up into Virabhadrasana I this morning in Surya B, I felt some new sensations in the back of the hip of my extended leg that I have not felt before. It was like a popping sensation in the hips, but not quite so dramatic (there was no "pop" sound). But it was refreshing and invigorating nonetheless.
The practice went on. I got through primary. As I was getting out of Setu Bandhasana, I asked myself, "Should I just do primary today? After all, I'm supposed to be tired today, right?" But then I thought, "Well, you made it this far, doing a few more postures won't kill you (well, kapotasana might, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it)." And so I plodded on through second. I had a space-cadet moment in the backbends: I went into Laghu Vajrasana without doing Ustrasana. I realized it after I got up from Laghu, "rewound" and went back and did Ustrasana, and then did Laghu again. Kapotasana didn't kill me, although I seemed to be a little tighter today: Had to hang a few breaths longer than usual before I felt confident enough to dive and grab my heels.
Did that chicken-out exit from Pincha Mayurasana again. I have to keep working on this.
All in all, it was a very good practice, despite the slow start. Kino offered to give me Karandavasana at her workshop a couple of weeks ago, and told me that once I start working on Karanda, I can cut out primary and do second only. Hmm... very tempting, but I think I'll stick to my long practice for now. It's good for the mind/body, as you can see.