Tuesday, August 5, 2008

balancing acts

tuesdays are yoga days, lately my only days off the bike. they are about recovery and balance. and keeping me on the path to living a long, healthy life. I have this quirky love-hate relationship with yoga: I know it's good for me, I know the effects are worth the work, I know it will keep me moving in a healthier way throughout my life. but sometimes it is just hard, impossible, painful, and as difficult as climbing steep hills with no water.
well, the last was an exaggeration. however, there were moments in this morning's class where I was counting to myself, thinking "I can only hold this pose until I reach 30 . . . okay, 35 . . . okay, maybe 40 . . ."
I think I'm supposed to be breathing during yoga, breathing steadily, deeply, consistently; and I'm supposed to have an uncluttered mind. I shouldn't be planning tonight's dinner or worrying about what all I need to accomplish before noon. I should be feeling my body, listening to it, affirming it and aligning it gently. no huffing, puffing, jerking stuff.
I try so hard not to compare myself with anyone else in the room. not the 5'10" perfectly toned blonde who came in late and plopped herself right in perfect view of my non-comparing eyes, not the beautiful thirty-something pediatrician who is also a runner and a well-accomplished student of yoga, not penny, who has been practicing yoga for over 5 years and can do everything, and do it correctly . . . nope, I focus on me. who is getting better, but still can't do that twist and reach one arm behind the shoulder and the other between the legs and connect them and hold on thing.
inversions are part of the routine in the more advanced class: basically, just what it sounds like. we invert ourselves, into headstands or handstands or shoulderstands. I am still at the headstand-next-to-the-wall level, which would be the beginner level. it's okay, though, I suppose I have the rest of my life to perfect these things.
after inversions, though, come something that I'm sure has a better name, but I will call 'reverse' poses. miguel has us move into a pose that does for our neck and back the reverse of what the inversions do. a complement, really, or an antidote. and this system is what's on my mind this morning.
what if we treated life more in this way? for every stressful happening in our life, we gave ourselves a few moments of joy and laughter? for every wild, crazy party we attended we spent time in meditation or prayer? for every mountain we climbed we relaxed in a bubble bath or jacuzzi? I think that most of us do this to some extent, but I don't know that we bring an awareness to it. what if we were to consciously realize that we need these reverses? that life is full of high intensity experiences--be they wonderful or difficult--and that they need to have an antidote for us to remain healthy?
this one can't be solved with a pill. this one needs awareness and commitment.
I cried today: tonight I need 30 minutes with a funny movie.
I struggled with work stresses today: this afternoon I will go for a run.
I giggled for 2 hours at lunch with friends: tonight I need some downtime with a book.
I am now done wearing my counseling hat, and am going to go put my head on the floor and my feet up the wall. I will stay there for a few minutes, viewing the world from a different perspective. and then I'll hang out in fish pose for a minute or two, to restore the balance in my system.

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