Sunday, November 2, 2008
Ashtanga, Ambivalence and Commitment
Well, I was hoping to write a post(as I write this I am listening to my latest favorite channel on Pandora, the Beautiful World by Colin Hay channel-Pandora creates this for you by just specifying a song that you like) about running the Chicago Ultra that took place this past Saturday. The store manager where I work finished the 50K part of the North Face Challenge races in Madison, WI. He has been under a hectic schedule and still managed to get enough training in to finish the race, no matter how painful, he finished it!!! His finish really motivated me to give the Chicago 50K a shot. I had hesitated signing up because the entry fee was close to $75 and I didn't want to shell out the dough unless I was going to do it(my slacker tendency has been to flake out of races even if I have spent the money to sign up). I went to Fleet Feet the day before the race to sign up and found out the race cap had been met and it was closed. I was really, really disappointed because I had that mind set of "just doing it" and I really wanted to try. I decided I had to accept that it was the universe saying it was not my time to do it. Now I have this idea to enter the Huff 50K that takes place December 27th, issues are the race takes place in Indiana, I have to find transportation, a place to stay, etc. But this is my current idea so I can finish 2008 at least saying that I attempted a 50K, part of the reason for this blog is for me to stop thinking and what "iffing" and instead, doing or at least attempting these things I either dream about or think about. On the agenda for next week is the Universal Sole trail run, the Rock N Sole trail challenge on Sunday, a short race but through the woods.
So instead of getting up and going to the race at 5am in the morning Saturday, I got up at 6:30(well, okay, I hit snooze several times, so it was more like 7am) had coffee and biked the 40 minute ride to Yoga View, and took Tom's Ashtanga Primary Class. I am in love with the Primary Series, can I be in love with yoga? I love skiing, I love climbing, I love trekking, I love biking. I guess it is that I recently realized how I love yoga, like I love skiing, it is that entire consumption of my focus and my mind, and the exhilaration I get from the activity . There is something about the sequence, no matter how ugly some of my attempts at the poses are, that is really soul satisfying. It is hard to put into words, but half of me is anxious at the start of a Primary Series class, my slacker thoughts come into play, "will some of the poses hurt to much", "will I hurt myself", "will I be too creaky" because the class is really demanding, at least for me. But then the other half of me really enjoys how I have to be fully present to go through the series and once we say the opening prayer and go through the opening sun salutations which are very gentle, I get happy that I am there. My intention that I say to myself for every yoga class I take is "to be kind and gentle with myself" which with ashtanga means not necessarily going to that "jagged edge"(I couldn't help using the term) where a lot of live wires are dangling in whatever part of my body the pose is reaching into and if I feel like I have gone there first I breath, and then I back off a little. The beginning sequences are all these opening postures which I am getting better at and which for me are good to do because they physically open me(like a chiropractic session with the noises of bones moving around included) but I feel emotionally and spiritually they open me up and at this point I am close to being warmed up and I lose my panic about being limber enough to go through the series, doing backwards rolls make me happy for some reason, doing headstands makes me happy, and then towards the end after I feel like I have done a zillion pushups and am really tired at the same time I feel at peace with my body and all its warts and I feel completely at peace with myself. It is one of the few activities that I lose the ego, and the self consciousness I carry with me most of the time and just become one with the moments although there are moments of internal laughter as I see how stuck my body is in places but it doesn't get me mad or frustrated, I just kind of accept that is where I am. the series somewhat connects to my inner gymnast(I was a gymnast in high school and college, not particularly great but I liked it). After class I am on this mental plane of contentment. The adjustments that Bill, Tom, and Eva(who assisted Tom in his class) give are really satisfying because it seems they each have the talent and experience of how far to gently push my body more than I am willing to, and the opening the adjustments create are kind of like Aha moments, it is is exciting to see, hey, my body can actually do that. There is something with this sequence that has a powerful impact on me mentally and spiritually. My goal at the start of this year was to learn the Primary series and start going to the morning Mysore classes and I have revised that goal because the task for me is a little more formidable than I anticipated so I will be happy if I have half of the series memorized by the end of the year.
Finally, my third theme for this post, ambivalence. Way too big a category to really expound on, suffice it to say I am not ambivalent about yoga anymore, I am fully committed to making my classes but I have started realizing how I am ambivalent on some important things relative to my life. How committed I am to writing, to finishing an ultra, to moving to Aspen, Telluride, to finding a job that I make my monthly cash flow to a lot of things. At least with finishing an ultra, I may not get the training in but kind of sad to say but I am great at "pushing through the pain", kind of the theme for part of not all of my life. I am beginning to realize there is good and bad pain and yoga is making me realize that, sometimes it can be painful but healthy to work on certain things in my body/in life. My computer dictionary's definition of pain is suffering or discomfort. I don't necessarily want to suffer but some things can be discomfortable and still good for me at the same time, like opening parts of my body in yoga that have been closed for some reason or another. So an ultra I somehow know even if I am not completely committed, if I am somewhat committed I can finish. Writing for me is a different story. I am really questioning how committed am I to writing? I write this blog, I write in a journal, but I have all these ideas for plays, stories, a book maybe. The question for me is, AM I really committed to at least trying to make publishing a story, play, book happen? I have given the book idea thing a shot but that was a shot in the dark attempt, 40 letters, 40 agents, 40 No's with a 4 hopeful responses. IF I really(I don't know this yet) want to craft and finish a story, play to the best of my ability I really have to commit. I have to add structure in my life to make a real attempt not a half hearted attempt that allows me to make excuses for failure. Have I written much about The Jagged Edge of late, a little, yes, but have I written every day, no...... If I want to make the story happen and finish it and move onto the next, I have to commit...it is easier to go to a yoga class which is a definite thing or run a race which is a definite thing, climbing a mountain is a concrete thing, trekking over a pass is concrete, physical activities are very satisfying because they are concrete and have a beginning and an end, working on something creative is a different kettle of fish..........SO this it with my slacker thoughts for the week...