I opted to stay in a hotel Friday night since our class was in the evening - with an hourish drive each way, it seemed like the wisest option. However, I slept horribly, so it may have been better to have driven home after all. Between getting sucked into a movie on USA (Tristan and Isolde), which I finally had to turn off at midnight, my neighbors trying to get into my room instead of their own at 1 am, and my anxiety about Saturday's class, I accumulated about 5 hours of sleep.
Saturday as we opened class with our chant (see previous day's post) I started crying. It was a bit of a surprise and I found it annoying because the last thing I wanted to do was disrupt the class. Fortunately it wasn't an overwhelming cry, and once we got through the chant whatever those vibrations were bringing up settled back down.
We went through a very physical 2 hours of asana. Loads of hand work (Surya Namascar), which I used to do years ago but haven't for quite some time because it often causes a flare of my repetitive stress injury (RSI) in my arms. The goal pose was handstand, which I didn't do since, in the words of our trainer, I'm on "my holiday." Just as well, since I don't have the arm strength nor the balance to actually get into a handstand (though I would have tried anyways were I not on holiday). After a lunch break we had another hour of asana. I was nervous about the third hour since the first two had exhausted me, but as it turned out, the third required less physical exertion. Still challenging, but not as much hand work. The last two hours were discussion and posture lab, which was a lot of fun. It's beyond cool to practice physically then have a posture lab where we have the chance to make corrections with what we've heard Dani say during our practice. I can't imagine a better way to cement the concepts into a foundling teacher's brain (ok, so what do I know, I've never done this before. But seriously, it's fantastic.).
Today (Sunday) the tears were back again. A little bit in the chanting, which was again controllable. They reared up again during Uttanasana after Utkatasana at the wall, but were still fairly brief. I was doing well as we worked up to Virabhadrasana III, though my right hand/wrist/shoulder were a bit irritated from Saturday; I modified my Adho Muhka Svasana to Dolphin and Plank to Dolphin Plank. It's definitely a bit awkward to vinyasa through a Surya Namascar and get into a lunge from your forearms, but my hands were happy that I did so. We eventually worked our way down to our mat and into Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulderstand).
I haven't done shoulderstand in a long time... I stopped doing it some years ago because I did not feel like I had adequate balance to do it safely with regard to my lower back, and it NEVER felt good on my neck. The problem with my neck (other than my spinal stenosis) was more than likely that I never tried shoulderstand with blankets.
Anyways, I've been determined with this training to make the most of every opportunity. Meaning, when we come to a pose which I don't normally practice, I will do it to the best of my ability. I'm not going to let "can't" get in my way. I was so focused on this that I forgot I'm not supposed to be inverting this weekend (see previous comments re: "on holiday"). So, I prepared my blankets and mat as instructed, got into position, and had second thoughts. But my neck felt good, and my low back has been feeling good, so I decided I needed to at least try to get up. It took a bit of effort, both physical and mental, but I did it. And not too badly either. Not perfectly, but perfect really was not the goal anyways. Jackie came by and gave me some adjustments, which helped me strengthen the pose. I managed to stay in the shoulderstand for almost as long as everyone else (which again doesn't really matter, but it's hard to break the Western mindset of comparing one's performance to others).
As soon as I came out of shoulderstand I started crying. Not small enough to just wipe away unnoticed either. I hate disrupting the class. I love that it's totally ok to cry there, and I know it is. But I still hate being a distraction. Dani asked me what was going on - I shrugged, I honestly had no idea other than I couldn't help but cry. Jackie came over, rubbed my neck, and helped me breathe through the tears. I managed to gain a modicum of control, but the tears only slowed down. They kept going all the way through our last pose (Savasana) and I felt as if I could have easily just curled up into a ball and cried for a while.
I've been working on determining the reason for the tears ever since they happened. It's not really surprising that shoulderstand triggered tears since the pose is an inversion (which combats depression and anxiety). Though I don't normally have anxiety problems, I have had loads of it in anticipation of starting this teacher training. And I've combated mild depression for... well, as long as I can remember. Turning the world upside down changes your perspective in more than just the literal sense. There's a great article at Yoga Journal by Barbara Benagh on Salamba Sarvangasana. She covers not only the movements of the pose, but the internal actions as well, including the chin lock, or Jalandhara Bandha, "which regulates the flow of energy in the head, throat, and heart" in this pose. Babara has this to say about the bandhas:
"All of the bandhas intensify the cleansing effects of hatha yoga. According to traditional yogic understanding, a fire called agni, located just below the navel, cleanses the body by burning away toxins. When the flow of energy throughout the body is disrupted, the lower body accumulates excess apana, the downward flowing energy responsible for elimination. This excess contributes to weak breathing, lethargy, poor elimination, and other ailments. Inverted asanas turn the flame of agni toward this waste, enabling us to burn it off more efficiently."Although I technically should not have gone into this inversion today, I'm thankful that I did. I think the tears were a sign of this cleansing release, which I quite obviously needed, all the more so for not having practiced any inversion besides Viparita Karani for years. As happy as I am to be taking this training (over the moon), I'm scared that I am not strong enough to make it through. I'm determined, and determination has always gotten me through past challenges. But yoga teacher training is so far outside of my comfort zone, I don't know that my usual tools are enough. I won't give up, it's just not in my blood. But I'm scared out of my mind of failure.