Monday, November 22, 2010

Practicing (and Walking) in a Winter Wonderland

First, a little weather report. It is officially winter here in Northwest Minnesota. I woke up this morning and looked out the window to see every car in the parking lot wrapped under a generous blanket of snow. It's snowing heavily and eleven degrees here, and will probably remain this way for the rest of the day, if it doesn't get colder.

Needless to say, my practice room was quite a bit colder this morning. Took a bit longer to warm my body up in the suryas, but once I got past that, the practice actually felt very nice and refreshing. The cold makes me move more slowly and carefully, but the payoff is well worth it: Whatever flexibility I gain during the practice is real flexibility, not heat/hubris-induced bendiness.

Because yesterday was a moon day (and because I ate two huge slices of pizza yesterday and had a tall glass of beer--gotta be careful here: Cold weather always induces me to eat too much), I thought I would just do primary and maybe second up to Parsva Dhanurasana. But when I finished Pasrva D, the usual "superstition" arose again. A voice inside me was saying: Hey, you still have quite a bit of gas left in the tank... Don't you think it's kind of sacrilegious to stop now? So onward I marched to Kapotasana. Kapotasana wasn't exactly easy today (had to hang for a few breaths before the chest would open), but it was decent. Felt good.

Had to walk in the snow to the bus stop today. As I standing there waiting for the bus (which, mercifully, arrived within five minutes), a thought occurred to me: It is said that eskimos have somewhere around 200 different words for snow. Why don't we Ashtangis have 200 different words for the myriad different sensations (both pleasant and unpleasant) that arise during practice? We talk about "opening", for instance. But surely the sensation associated with feeling your hips open in Utthita Parvsakonasana is very different from the sensation of feeling, say, your chest open in Dhanurasana. Yet we use "open" to describe these two arguably very distinct sensations. Food for thought...

Changing the subject, I'll like to introduce all of you to a new inhabitant of the blogosphere: My dear friend Cathrine. We went to school together in Florida. Like me, she is a PhD-wielding academic, and is a person of considerable wit, wisdom and compassion... hmm... can you tell that I'm shamelessly using her to promote myself? I wonder what Kant would say about this... But I try not to say things unless they happen to be true (more shameless self-aggrandizing...) But seriously, please check out her new blog, If wishes were horses.It is a really wonderful thing to have one more voice in the blogosphere.


1 comment:

  1. Wow - thanks Nobel for those very kind and heartfelt words and the plug for my blog. The feeling is mutual, I'm sure. Oh, and by the way, I love to see you self-aggrandizing - if I can use that as a verb.

    Soon, I too, will be walking in the snow to work and other places around town. They tell me it snows in Lakewood every year and that last year they had 40 inches! I am sure this new seasonal experience will be good fodder for a blog post!