No one’s perfect. Don’t let that stop you from trying.
I recently criticized the author of an article titled “11 Lessons That Jane Eyre Can Teach Every 21st Century Woman About How To Live Well”. I have no moral question about that, and I stand by my convictions that using a listicle to summarize a piece of media where part of the experience is the reading of it is a slight against said media, even when the intention is to celebrate it.
However, I must confess—with much reluctance—that I have never actually read a Brontë work.
Scandalous, I know.
To that end, however, I’ve begun reading Wuthering Heights. Yes, it’s not Jane Eyre, and so one could say how dare I attack another writer for eliminating the need to read Jane Eyre and then admit that I haven’t read it. However, Wuthering Heights is the more highly-recommended of the two. Furthermore, I refuse to sit idly by and preach that one should be ingesting better writing than Buzzfeed and then proceed to not live up to my own claim.
In pursuit of the elusive handstand, I have begun working more core strength into my vinyasa flow practice. Following advice from…I want to say Kino MacGregor (can’t remember, honestly), I’ve begun working into shirsasana B (tripod headstand) from parsarita paddottanasana D. However, I think the added stress on my erector muscles caused some of the muscles that go from the upper spine to the side of the neck to flare up and cramp. It doesn’t feel like a pull, but I’m being more gentle just the same (and avoiding that transition for a few days!). The wide-leg inversion uses more core control than bakkasana to shirsasana B, which is what I was doing before, and will begin working into muscle memory the core muscles for the more stable and controlled inversion.
Speaking of control…yes, let’s talk about control.
I shared a video of Phillip Askew in a time and space-lapsed vinyasa flow. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. What’s most notable, I think, is not his flexibility, but rather his control.
I’ve heard that in aikido, the Japanese martial art, one of the first things that a practitioner learns how to do is roll. This practice itself can take years—and one might ask, “How does it take so long to roll?” Aikido practitioners learn the roll in such a way that they are able to stop themselves at any point. Think about how we roll—just an ordinary somersault. There comes a tipping point where we use gravity and willingly suspend our control, knowing we will regain it at some point. This can actually be very dangerous, and one can imagine how this can lead to injury.
When I train(ed) with the Suzuki Method of Training for the Classical Actor, before even beginning what’s called the “Basic” exercises, one learns how to lower to the ground and rise back up, in such a way that one can stop at any point—without any wobbles. I think yoga is the same way.
Perhaps we should spend some time worrying less about how deep our backbends are and concentrate (and celebrate) more the things we know we can do. How slow can we make them? Can we stop at any point during the forward fold in our surya namaskaras? Think about what you find more impressive: is it the person who demonstrates how difficult their life is, or how effortless they make the challenging parts in their life seem? That sense of effortlessness is control, and if yoga is “designed” to teach us anything, I would say certainly more than flexibility, even more than core strength (for the sake of strength), it’s control.
For this week, may you decidedly control something. May you live up to a standard you hold others to. And, seriously, may you pick up some classical literature. It’s National Novel Writing Month, and if you aren’t writing, then you absolutely should be reading!
Post-note: I usually write these on Thursday, so I don’t know if I’ll get another entry in before Thanksgiving. If I don’t, Happy Thanksgivukkuh!
Photo: HumanSeeHumanDo/Flickr (the painting “The Confession” is attributed to Frank Dicksee)