Sunday, February 07, 2010

Balance, On Seeking

Today, for the first time in a long time, I went to yoga. Now, most of you probably know that I have been doing Crossfit since April, and since I picked that up, the time I spend swimming and doing yoga has dwindled and finally disappeared.
But a recurring shoulder injury has forced me to slow down, to reassess what I do and why, and yes, how. I've been thinking about range of motion and flexibility. I'm stronger than I have ever been in my life. And leaner. But I'm less flexible. And now my shoulder doesn't work the way it should.
So I sought solace in yoga. I first started doing yoga in college, actually. It was a PE credit and it was fun, but it didn't change my life. I don't remember much about it except thinking that the thin, hippy-ish teacher was hitting on a friend of mine from women's studies. Then I started going again in Bellingham and got pretty into it. I went to a school there that was in Fairhaven. Then I did yoga with a friend in my studio apartment.
I've done yoga off and on here, searching for the right teacher, the right class. A few years ago, I went fairly often to a yoga class that is close to my house. I started going less when I started running and swimming, but still went once a week or so. Usually less. Then I started going to another studio because I like the guy who owns it. Then I started Crossfit.
When I started Crossfit, all my time and money went to that.
So I went today looking for some help with my injury. And there was less stretching in the class than I needed, but, as usual with yoga (for me at least) I heard what I needed to hear, namely the idea of Disconnecting. I've already held forth on this in the comments over at Counterintuitive's blog, but let me just hold forth here.
The idea of Disconnecting is that we are all over committed. We have schedules and we try to fill them. The idea of disconnecting is trying to lessen that, trying to unplug, leaving holes in our schedules. Free time. Remember that?
The other thing the teacher did was read a poem by Wendell Berry. The line she focused on was something about the grace of the world. What I took from her was the idea that the world is amazing, and we are always trying to fill our lives with activities, some of which distract us from the amazing-ness of the world. Why not try to just be idle for a while? A few minutes? An hour? And just be in the grace of the world.
It reminded me that I constantly struggle with myself, tell myself that I'm not doing enough, not being enough, not lifting enough, not writing enough, not spending enough time with Son, not reading enough, not doing enough for my students, not running enough.
Today I received the perfect reminder that it's okay to do nothing. It's okay to take time off from being amazing and just listen and look and breathe.
I think yoga may be the balance I need right now. Where Crossfit is intense, yoga is reflective. You can't rush through it. You have to be in it.
Good lesson.


Lisa B. said...

I wonder when I will ever learn the lesson of balance. But I need to learn it. I really do.

Thanks for the post.

radagast said...

And, doggone it, people LIKE me!

will said...

Great post.

I've been following the Dr. Write Crossfit saga with some interest of late. Its been exciting to see you get in the best shape of your life. To me, what is neat about Crossfit is it's creative, do-it-yourself, bare-bones ethos---the idea that exercise/fitness can and should be made out of anything in front of you. No fancy machinery, no monotonous treadmills, or obsessive hear-rate monitor checking. Just push ups, running around the block, throwing heavy objects, ect...

What I dislike about Crossfit is that it is just push ups, running around the block, throwing heavy objects, ect... Push ups are good for you but inherently forgettable. Of course, this reflects my personal biases, so take what you want from this, but during your reflection and recuperation, consider taking what you've earned and learned from Crossfit and go bigger, more creative. Find an obscure place on the map and check it out on foot or bushwhack, climb an obscure mountain/hill that nobody climbs (one that is safe though), row a boat across the Salt Lake. Do it boldly, so it takes all your fitness to do. But do so with balance. When you get to the top of the hill, bring a spot of tea. The point is not to be a Himalayan badass or anything. Its to drink your tea in tiredness. To move your body over this great land. To clear your head of peripheral cares.

susansinclair said...

I'm of two I often am. I'm actually pretty good at carving out space to do nothing, or at least nothing much. My partner and I are a good fit that way. On the other hand, I often feel guilty about doing nothing, like somehow I lack discipline or motivation because I'm not doing crossfit or yoga or running. I shall work on breathing and reminding myself that in the larger scheme of things, I am blessed and happy and darn it, people like me.

Janell said...

Thanks for the reminder to slow down and reflect.

Nik said...

I want some balance! I suppose it would be unjust of me to take some balance away from you though, thereby unsettling you in your careful yoga pose. Perhaps when I see you in March my balance will be restored. Or at least maybe I'll do a sun salutation or two by then :)

Counterintuitive said...

I like the idea of disconnecting. Currently took meditation class last semester and taking a yoga class this semester. It's been very good for me to do something which has no apparent reward other than...maybe disconnection.

Still, I struggle to find the right balance. For me the best thing, and here I agree with Will, is to get outside. I've done 20 or so winter hikes; that's been my way of disconnecting. And for once in my life I'm not training for anything; just hiking up a mt. This summer the plan is to do some solo all day hikes but not to a peak but rather up less known canyons.

ErinAlice said...

I like Yoga more than I thought I would...I need to do more.