6pm with Ben, who I’ve only had once before today. Lots of students like him and he definitely has an energy about him different from any other teacher I’ve had. Today, was a PACKED class. And I mean PACKED TO THE GILLS. There must’ve been 70 people in the studio; it was at maximum capacity. When we didn’t think we could fit any more, a few more stragglers came in and everyone had to readjust their mats. Ben said, “Is there a sale today that I don’t know about?! Why is everyone here?!” The podium in the front of the room was removed to accommodate two more students. When it was removed, Ben said, “This means I don’t have any place to sit during class! Ok, I know. I don’t get anyone’s sympathy.” People laughed. There must’ve been only an inch between mats. Towels overlapped with other towels to the point that the carpet was covered. I couldn’t see the dark blue line. In crowded classes like this, it is hard stand on the dark blue line. We often hafe to stagger ourselves to not be on top of each other. Despite the crowd, people were surprisingly upbeat and friendly and accommodating. In fact, the energy in the room was great! During pranayama, it was sooooo awesome to hear H-A “ha” sounds being exhaled from 70 mouths. If 70 mouths and bodies create awesome energy, I can only imagine what 300 must feel like moving together! I was drenched already after pranayama. We all were. It was going to be a juicy class!
I had a strong class: I was focused, my mind was empty, and I moved fluidly. And Ben really kept us going. At half moon pose, before raising our arms up, he said, “Imagine you have paint brushes at the tip of your middle finger. Reach down and raise your arms as if your brushing the side walls and now up to the ceiling….as you bend your body right and left to warm up, reach up and paint the ceiling and flow from one side to the left.” It was a beautiful image. By full locust, he instructed us to extend our arms put our hands in inappropriate places. That got a laugh out of the class. As we were in the first set, I heard him say to a male student, “Boss. Keep you hand up there. Yeah, in her mouth. That’s okay, she likes it.” In savasana, we busted out laughing.
I think I was a little dehydrated because I cramped up a little at awkward, eagle, and standing forehead to knee. And since it is winter, I put lotion on my hands and in every evening class, I can’t maintain a 10-fingered grip in standing forehead to knee and standing bow. Something odd is going on in my left (healthy) knee: it’s been feeling sore for the last two days. It has a dull sensation of having been stretched out. One time, a few months into my practice, I thought I had pulled something above my left knee. It hurt to walk and put pressure on it. I stopped going to bikram and it hung around for a week. And as quickly as it came, it disappeared after that week. It’s the same area of the left knee where I feel this soreness now and it is the same pain but on a lesser scale. I think it is working itself out, whatever it is. After three days of maintaining my integrity and truly getting my forehead to my knee on my right side, I already feel the difference and my body opening in oh so tiny, itsy bitsy increments. It’s not as difficult as it was three days ago to get my forhead to my knee even though my leg is totally bent! Even in standing separate forhead to knee, it was still an insane struggle but it was a teensy weensy bit easier.
Ben suggested a way to open up our cervical spines: lay against a stability ball with an 85cm diameter, put our arms above our heads, and hold a light weight (he said he used a pineapple one day and bottle of wine another), and take 100 breathes. I think I’ll try that. Btw, Ben is the founder of LuxYoga, which does bikram retreats in the South of France with senior teacher Craig Villani. I hear it is beautiful and decadent and awesome. There is a chef that cooks your meals, you stay at this beautiful villa overlooking the French Riviera, you do bikram every day with lots of personal attention and posture clinics, and you take day trips to local places. Who doesn’t love that? If anyone is interested, check out the website. I think there are several retreats scheduled for this summer. There are two teachers from my studio who attended a past retreat. They raved about it.