The principal at my school is all about positive attitude and motivation. Like many effective leaders, she frequently shares material to inspire and encourage the staff. 212: The Extra Degree is one of those things. This short video clip is about the extra effort that separates good from great. Like water changing to steam with just one more degree, it illustrates that the smallest of margins can make all the difference. I invite you to click on the link now and watch it, then read on. It’s well worth 3 or 4 minutes of your time. Here it is again. Click on it. Watch it: 212: The Extra Degree.
I mention this clip as it so perfectly ties to the theme of Christina’s advanced asana class on Thursday afternoon which dealt with SUSTAINING. An excerpt from her blog beautifully outlines this quality as it relates to the Absolute:
” … because our physical bodies hold all of the clues we need for the metaphysical journey, we can look in our very physicality for clues about the nature of what sustains and how. For instance our heart beat and our breath — each of these functions so very important to sustain life exist in a — everybody say it all together now — SPANDA, in a pulsation (Go back to the attributes of the absolute from a month or so ago.) And because asana is a way that we can, if we choose to, practice “acting like Shiva” as a means to embody the sacred, as a means to “Align with the Divine” we can consciously participate in this spanda in our poses and the alignment becomes the means by which we sustain the pose.”
Now one always gets nervous when Christina Sell starts talking about “sustaining poses.” Well, “one” might not, but this ONE does! See, she does not allow the length we hold poses to be determined by whim but by the biomechanical Universal Principles of … da, da, da …. the Timer. (Does anyone have some Anthony Perkins “Psyho” music to insert here?) Actually, I suppose we should be grateful that she uses the timer, folks, because she seems to keep us EVEN LONGER when she forgets to set it.
That said, on Thursday, she changed the interval we normally hold poses from 1 minute to 2 minutes ~ a monumental difference to those of us lunging in Warrior I. (Make sure you read, that’s lunging, not LOUNGING.) We should not be surprised. “Virabhadra: The name of a fierce warrior, an incarnation of Shiva, described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs.” (from Yoga Journal) The name simply does not suggest a casual approach.
With seconds ticking slowly by, Christina fires us up: “Come on. Take your front thigh down to 90 degrees,” which is after all one of the hallmarks of Virabhadrasana in Anusara. The quads were burning. We were all sweating. Even Anne. It was hard. Just ask that girl who walked out of class complaining it was “too hard.” Interesting. (Perhaps there was a reason the adjective “advanced” was listed on the class schedule, yes?)
We switch legs, move into the pose, the timer starts again: 10 … 15 … 20 seconds pass. Christina stops the timer, pulls us out, and directs us back into the starting lunge: “Sit deeper. There ya go. Now keep that position of your front thigh and now move into Warrior I without giving anything up. That’s it.” And the timer starts again. The thigh at 90 degrees. Not 89 … 90! Sustaining.
And that extra degree makes all the difference!