It’s Wednesday (aka “hump day”). These days, hump day has a new significance. My youngest has now been given the 4-9:15 AM shift at our gym every Wednesday – and I drive him there. Often, I help him with his duties while I kill time until the mysore room at my yoga studio is open.
I don’t know when I became a morning person, but I seem to have adjusted to allow for a relatively easy wake up. Mid-day, however, the early rising tends to get to me and I will struggle to make it over the hump and through the end of my work day. Because of this, I was happy to have used the early morning to get in a quick upper body workout. This will allow me to get to bed early tonight as needed.
Contrary to what you might think, weight training and cardio workouts have actually been very good for me. While I am not as open and flexible, I find that these activities have helped to stabilize my joints and keep my muscles from getting too stretched out. Subsequently, I am in less pain and am now able to get my leg behind my head fairly comfortably. In talking with other yogini friends, the majority of them who have added strength training to their activities have found the same is true for them. Of course, my switch to adopting a ketogenic lifestyle has helped considerably as well.
Even so, over the last couple of days, my yoga practice has been rather uncomfortable. This past weekend, I did a rather strenuous 15 mile hike with my sweetheart and youngest son. And although I feel like I am in good hiking shape, with a 5 day backpacking trip just 1 month ago, my body did not go easily UP and DOWN and UP the mountain.
I suppose that if I were to compare today to the recent trek, I might consider getting over the “hump” a breeze.
There are days when you wake up feeling stiff, sore, and unmotivated. My Monday was like this. The advice following my morning HRV check was to proceed with caution. So….I dawdled a bit, contemplating skipping my Mysore Practice all together. Starting on Tuesday, my teacher was due to be away for a week and the following week I would be trekking through the backcountry. I was, therefore, compelled to at least “show up” and do my sun salutations.
Arriving much later than I usually do, I found the Mysore Room surprisingly busy. The rows of mats perfectly aligned in neat little rows like the twelve little girls in one of my favorite books from childhood. My teacher was making her way around the room, helping out when needed, while everyone independently worked through their given practice.
In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines
In two straight lines they broke their bread
And brushed their teeth and went to bed.
They left the house at half past nine
In two straight lines in rain or shine-
The smallest one was Madeline.”
– Ludwig Bemelmans, Madeline
After someone moved to the back of the room to complete their closing sequence, I rolled out my mat in their place in the second row and got busy.
For many months now, I have failed to journal, and/or blog, following my yoga practice. Keeping a practice journal has been a companion practice which I took up 6+ years ago. Letting it fall to the wayside, was not intentional, yet I did nothing to rectify it until now — even though I acknowledge the benefit of keeping it up.
“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.” ― Virginia Woolf
Perhaps it’s because my yoga practice is lacking that I held off for so long to reawaken the effort. If it’s not recorded, there will be no evidence of how pathetic my practice has become. Yeah? There will also be no way of knowing when my ankle started hurting.
The truth of the matter is that I have been a little overwhelmed with the tugs from the various aspects of my life, the unexpected expenses, costly yet essential home repairs, and [whatnot]. Continuing to come to my mat, whether it be at home or in the mysore room, has been a godsend.
Although one might think that the training I have been doing for the Spartan Races would pose an additional demand, it has probably done more in the way of alleviating stress than adding to it. Additionally, if it weren’t for my continued training coupled with plans for an upcoming backpacking trip, I might have continued to ignore the ankle pain that’s been plaguing me for God-only-knows-how-long.
““If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word.”
All this to say that I am writing again (here and in my little book). I can’t promise it will be anything of significance but it could be — so stay connected.
As I age, it is all too easy for me to get caught up in the things and parts of myself that are just not the same. Whether it is a physical pain/discomfort that I am feeling, an inability to perform a physical movement (such as a pull up or particular asana), or the broken garage door that has me parking my car outside.
These changes are just that: changes. They aren’t necessarily good or bad. They just are.
Have you ever noticed that when your being watched (or in a position where you could be being watched) it’s easy to stay focused. But when know one is holding you accountable, it is easy to let your gaze shift away from your target. Of course, I am not just talking about yoga. I am talking about the goals we set for ourselves as well as the deadlines established by others. Interesting enough, it seems that the latter always seems to push the former out of sight.
Fortunately, we don’t experience competing dristhis in our ashtanga yoga practice as each pose has a specific gazing point. It is in my practice where I can observe how I lose focus and then, upon noticing, pull my attention back to where it should be. The practice serves as a training ground for life off the mat. Sometimes we find our sights repeatedly shifted on the wrong gazing point. I can’t tell how many times I notice that I am staring at the ceiling or back wall, instead of the tip of my nose, as I am taking my final breath in Kapotasana.
Similarly, I’m always being pulled in multiple directions. Work, my boys, the gym, homeowner ‘stuff’, etc. They all compete for my attention and my focal point is not always clear. Some days, I just want to crawl back into bed.
Above photo from the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence 2018 taken by Agathe Padovani