Inverted • 1 October 2007

I’ve been a morning practitioner since before I remember. (Short memory, or more like short identity-horizon.) By now all the routines in my life are tipped toward 6 am, where I stop for half a minute. Then the mechanism rolls over into a new cycle. Click.

Week before last, my morning practice space was booked with a kind of class reuinion, so I shifted to the evenings. Class began at 5, doors at 4:30.

I was not particularly enthusiastic about the shift. Practicing in the morning is my idea of really living, in a way that I wouldn’t know how to describe. Also, I’m convinced that I cannot get my mind to perform well throughout the day if I haven’t first cleaned the slate… and that my body will make me crazy if I don’t spend down some energy and stretch out the worst of the tension first thing.

On the other hand, evening practice is suboptimal on many levels: mentally, you’ve got far more static to contend with; physically, there is the fatigue of the day as well as in my case too much openness in the hips; and digestively, you don’t have the significant calming effects of a 15-hour fast (yes, I do frequently skip dinner).

That’s what I knew two weeks ago. Thought I knew. After the first week of evening practices, I did it again. And now, I’m about to do it a third week. God, what am I doing messing with the machine I thought I had perfected… at a time I most want it to run like clockwork?

I don’t know. I guess I’m letting the machine run itself a little bit. And right now it wants to stand on its head.

I’m still working out all the ways this changes the rhythms and the functionality of my mind and my body, given the intense things I am asking them to do this year. But what I saw the first week is that if I take the energy I’ve trained to spike in the mornings and sublimate that back into sociology, my writing is more focused and less full of shit than it has ever been. It’s strange not to practice first thing. Moreover, I recognize that I’m milking a spiritual tradition not of my own making but now of my own body to feed the pursuit of western “science,” and I’m not convinced that science is worth it. But, maybe it is.

Finally, I don’t know how long I can keep it up.

More on this as I realize what is going on.


  • Janis
    Posted 14 October 2007 at 8:34 am | #

    hey – I was/am totally going through this too! after switching to the evening about 4 weeks ago, I nearly quit practicing since I couldn’t figure out, for the life of me, why anybody would practice ashtanga in the evening!? if not for waking up and preparing you for the day, then why all the physical rigor? I still haven’t figured it out but right now, I’m happy to say it no longer feels like masochistic torture…

  • Posted 14 October 2007 at 6:45 pm | #

    Janis! Hello! Good to see you here!

    I’m still figuring it out too. Maybe I’ll post on some of the things I’m seeing. But a big one is that it’s just not as physically rigorous in the evenings, for me. Though I’m working hard, it’s certainly a softer practice.

    But, that’s sort of interesting. I’ve always thought that contrast in an of itself can be luxurious, and in a way the new sleeping “late” and the afternoon stretch are a luxury after the years of early mornings. Yet by the same token, I’ll twistedly experience the return to the morning as a kind of luxury too….

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