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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

an inner feeling of certainty

i have a very dirty car. and i'm damned proud that it's gotten THAT dirty.

you see, ever since i started getting around town via bike or bus, my car has remained parked under a tree in front of my place. tree sap, bird poop, dust and grime. you name it -- it's on my car. and i never really notice how dirty it's gotten until i have to use it to do errands that require hauling mass quantities of stuff around town. or for getting to places that would take HOURS to get to by bike. or even by bus.

i've gotten so used to staying local that i recently mentioned to a friend that my yoga practice has definitely become westside-centric. and while that's not a bad thing (especially since the santa monica/venice area is yoga central of the world -- prove me wrong!), i needed to expand my horizons once again to check on what was going on east of where i live. which is basically anything east of the 405 :)

so last thursday, i decided to visit christy marsden and her class at yoga blend in burbank. she, too, gets around in the yoga community; every now and then i run into her in unexpected places. like at daniel stewart's kirtan at rising lotus in sherman oaks. or at yoga classes at exhale in venice (see what i said about the westside being yoga central?). it would be nice to visit her on her home turf for a change. and maybe even drop by a few other places near her. like the pastry counter at porto's. yum....

christy's level 1-2 class was at 11:35am. i could leave home after the rush hour traffic had subsided and save myself from needlessly burning even more gas while creeping along at sub-20mph speed.

i hopped into my car shortly after 10:30am and immediately noticed that i couldn't see out my windshield. not a problem; a little windshield wiper action took care of that. i was off and running! i got on the 10; things were moving along really nicely. i turned up the music on my CD player and was marveling at how nice the day had turned out to be...

it was only when i had reached the vermont exit that i had realized: i'm on the wrong freeway!!! why was i going through downtown to get to burbank? and just then, traffic came to a screeching halt. arggggggghhhhhh!

i could see it now. from where i was, i would have to take the 110. to the 101. to the 134. and if all i could muster was a measly 5mph, i wouldn't reach burbank until friday! it was 11am. could i get there in time?

i started considering my options. bail at hoover and take side streets to catch the 2 to the 5 to the 134? or keep on the current absentmindedly-charted course and suffer through the gridlock?

i needed help from above. but who could do an online traffic check for me?

i called my friend BDB, who was supposed to be home recuperating from his heart attack. luckily, he was heeding my advice to stay home and rest. he whipped out his iphone and fired up the freeway condition app. the 110 is red, he said, but the 101 is moving (i can't remember if he said it was yellow or green; all i know is that some movement was good news). i decided to stay on course. then called 411 to get yoga blend's phone number.

an actual human being answered the phone. so far, so good.

how late into a class do you close the doors?, i asked her.

15 minutes, she said.

i explained that i was coming from santa monica, was stuck in traffic, and was trying my best to get there on time.

you still have 20 minutes, she added, hoping to sound encouraging, i'm sure.

so could i make it from downtown to burbank in that much time? if things were moving, no problem. if things weren't moving (as they were. or weren't), it was iffy.

long story short, i finally reached the 101, traffic DID open up past the vermont exit (funny how i had suffered from one end of vermont to the other), and when traffic started to slow down again, i exited at barham then went flying down the road until i reached olive in burbank. i was sooo close!

as luck would have it, i pulled into the lone available spot in their small parking lot. i ran out of my car sans yoga mat and stuck my head in their door. did i get here in time????, i asked the person behind the front desk.

christy had a feeling it was you who called, she said (i must be the only person who'd drive in all the way from santa monica in the middle of the day!), so as long as you got here before noon, it was ok for me to let you in. she looked at the clock. and it's noon!

i trusted that i would make it. and i did.

by the time i snuck into the room, the class had just finished their surya warmup and were moving on to standing poses. christy motioned towards an empty spot in the room and i put down my mat.

sraddha was the theme for the day's class. faith, trust, and belief that something you're doggedly working towards WILL happen.

it's like she had read my mind as i pushed on through traffic to get to her class!

sraddha that as a beginner, the poses will become more familiar.

sraddha that as an intermediate yogi, you will begin to move on to more advanced asanas.

sraddha that for those who are trying to master arm balances and inversions, it will happen if you work at it long enough.

i know i had missed her "talk" at the beginning of the class, but from the references she was making in class, it sounded like she managed to overcome an obstacle to get to where she is now. and all because she had sraddha.

next thing i knew, she had us attempting eka pada koundinyasana ii (which is just as tough to do as it is to say). it really isn't that hard, she said. it all about using a seesaw action to get your back leg up. back leg? i couldn't even get my FRONT leg up!

but i persisted. and not only did i manage to get my front leg up and somewhat straight, but i ALMOST got my back leg up! maybe if i didn't worry about it so much...

then we worked on handstands. i could get there nicely with the help of a wall. try it away from the wall, she instructed. move back a few feet and try it. all of a sudden, i was spastic. one leg would move until it was vertical, but the other leg had no clue what to do. just work on getting that one leg up and keep the second leg horizontal.

class flew by so quickly that before i knew it, we were in savasana (but then again, it didn't help that i was half an hour late). before we parted ways, we chanted the mantra for the day:

shraddha virya smriti samadhi prajna purvakah itaresham

which, according to the swamiJ site, translates to this:

shraddha = unconditional faith, trust, confidence, belief, certainty
virya = energy, strength of will
smriti = memory, intentful remembrance, mindfulness
samadhi = deep absorption of meditation, entasy
prajna = wisdom, discernment, super cognitive
purvakah = preceding, coming before, prerequisite
itaresham = of other people

Shraddha is a faith that you are moving in the right direction. It is not a blind faith in some organization, institution, or teacher. Rather, it is an inner feeling of certainty that you are moving in the right direction. You may not know exactly how your journey is unfolding, but have an inner intuition of walking steadily towards the goal of life.

after class, i asked christy to fill me in on her story that i'd missed at the start of class. here's what she sent me:

The class was about achieving goals and I told the story of wanting to open a yoga studio when I was in Nashville, TN and how I got really close and then ended up leaving my husband, losing my job, the housing market crashed and I lost tons of money...but despite the huge obstacles, I still had 'sraddha' (faith, confidence, trust) that I could reach my goal...just not in the way I thought. It took another 5 years, but I did it and it ended up being here in LA instead where I am very happily re-married.

So, the class was about that deep sense of belief that you can achieve what you desire (whether it is physical, spiritual, mental, emotional) despite the obstacles...you don't lose sight of the goal, because that is what will get you up and motivated to do the work in the present. If you come into yoga for back pain, but don't really believe it will work, it will be difficult to stick with it, do the practice, commit, etc.

this clearly is something i have to keep in mind, especially now that i'm trying to figure out my next career move... so if you've ever thought that yoga is nothing but getting all bendy and twisty so that you can wow your friends at the next party, think again!

i love how i get to learn something new everyday :)