Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Practice


Last year I started going to yoga with Mandy.  At first we were going once a week at the Om Place in Clark County.  It was inconvenient for her and more so convenient for me as it is in a round-a-bout way on my way home from work.
The first session as awkward for me, but I really wanted to try yoga because I knew I needed the benefits like more flexibility, core strength, forced relaxation etc., etc.  But after that first session it didn’t matter to me if I was the only guy in the room.  It didn’t matter to me that I couldn’t do all of the poses perfectly.  All that mattered was that I had found an activity that didn’t involve moving fast in the outdoors that seemed to satisfy my compulsion to do so.
People have forever counseled me to slow down and enjoy things.  I’ve been criticized for moving too fast.  I’ve felt pressure to slow down when my brain just keeps driving me on faster and faster.  I’ve hit the walls of age, injury, and reality time and time again.  Usually I just break on through full speed ahead and hardly spare a glance over my shoulder at the wreckage I leave behind.
I discovered that yoga is the perfect activity to force me to slow down and slow my mind.  So far I haven’t seen majestic physical changes in myself.  I’ve noticed some improvement in balance when I do the tree pose.  I’ve improved control when I do certain other poses.  And I feel better afterward.  My limbs and back are more relaxed even if my lower back is a persistent knot of latent cubicle/road rage.
 
That posture will ruin your day son
When summer ramped up we went on hiatus, but then a couple of months ago a friend of ours started offering yoga locally.  By locally I mean in my rural podunk county.  Within a few weeks she was offering yoga twice a week at the municipal building in Clay City.  I was glad to be back in practice.  I was glad to have easy access to such a beneficial activity.
During the last couple of sessions I realized something (in conjunction with my last few posts).  There is the possibility to find a state of flow while doing yoga.  It’s harder for me than while running or hiking, or cycling hard.  But there have been moments when time has seemed not to exist for me while doing yoga.  There have been sublime moments when I was lost in my own breathing and in my own body.  I didn’t see the people around me or the room, only the spot on the floor that anchored me in balance.  Eventually the spot disappeared as well.
Night before last I was frustrated as I tried to hold yet another downward dog.  My shoulders and wrists screamed at me and denied me the oblivion I wanted.  When we went into corpse pose I couldn’t wrestle the negative and troubling thoughts of the day out of my head.  But I was also cognizant of the lack of flow.  And that got me thinking more about the previous times during yoga when I had found the elusive state of being.

I get lost in this image sometimes
 
That made me somewhat happy, and I was able to finally relax and lose myself in the stillness of the moment.  The feeling was fleeting.  Eventually I became bored and impatient for the session to be over.  It was the first time that had happened to me. 
I’ve been trying to ease back on running.  After the Midsummer Night’s Run lead-up marathon and my overzealous attempt at a latitudinal crossing of the Red River Gorge this past weekend I have felt wrecked.  not specific pains mind you, just a general feeling of being stiff and run down.  I don’t feel as bad as I did only a few weeks out from the Iron Horse last year though.  I hit a wall of distinct mental and physical burn out that didn’t go away until I had hiated from running for a solid month.
I want to do the Rugged Red strong.  I want to feel so good and have such a good time that I can’t help myself but to do the 25k Cloudsplitter in October.
Just looking at this map gets me excited
 
I guess I’ve been playing fast and loose with my time lately.  I want to be focusing more on my internal issues, but I’m constantly distracted by my daily grind.  That puts me in a perpetual state of anxiousness that I’m never going to get my issues sorted out.  That, in turn, gives over to feelings of desperation in which I lose all regard for the realities and expectations of society. 
It’s hard to care about going through the motions for the sake of going through the motions when you’re not exactly sure if catastrophe is around the next corner.  I know I’m being vague, but it’s necessary because I am currently shirking responsibility to write this post as it is.  I still have enough self-awareness to be self-protective. 
A lot of my “recreational” pursuits are survival tactics.  It’s hard to explain or justify to other people, but I need the escape sometimes. Sometimes is more often than it used to be.  I’ve tried not to go back down the road where all I do is mope about, wishing for the apocalypse to get started.  It’s not healthy, it’s not productive, and that mindset wastes so much precious energy.

©Kennedy Miller Productions
Right now it’s hard for me to visualize myself as ever being obsessed with yoga like I am with other activities.  I don’t rule out that possibility, but it doesn’t seem to gel with my self-concept right now.  As I do it more that could change.  For now I use it as another escape, another avenue to flow, and as a time for giving my body some much needed love.

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