Thursday, March 30, 2017

From the Mat

At the beginning of the year, when the calm of ocean apathy becomes full of waves of possibility ... when the will to change laps up on the shore ... when the horizon, the future, seems so much more attainable than it had just days prior ...

At that time, I thought about what I wanted for myself in 2017. Working and, for all intents and purposes, living in a gym, it is hard to escape the goals of health and physical fitness. I watch guys stack plate after plate on Hammer machines so that they can push 400 pounds with their legs. I see them curl 75 pound dumbbells. I see a crunch on an incline bench performed with such ease to the point of fury that I wonder why I can't do those things.

It's hard not want some of that. To draw up ideas in my head of how to do that.

But looking at my schedule, the docket of classes becoming intertwined with a training plan, I had to be smart. And SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound.

It's not attainable nor realistic to add leg days or heavy lifting. There's just no time. But there's not the will nor the power - not necessarily mentally, but in the fibers of my muscles that so often speak to me as I get out of the van seat and jump down to the asphalt parking lot of the YMCA.

In those conversations with my legs as I walk closer to the doors, I found my answer. It wasn't trying to be a complete badass or prove that by lifting heavier I am a more competent trainer. No. In those conversations, I realized that I needed to find a way to quiet those muscles. To calm them.


Yoga is one of those things that I always say I want to do but after poring over schedules and plans, I dismiss because of time conflicts and price. But with my new schedule, this new life that I am slowly building, I discovered that there's this magic time of day between 1 and 2:30. At times, I spend it working on freelance pieces or creating menus for a recent foray into home meal delivery. But even then I tell myself that all I need is 20 minutes.

And so after my lunch, I sit on the couch and lose myself in an episode of "Girls" or "Big Little Lies" before cueing up YouTube on the Xbox. Yoga with Adrienne is my favorite channel, and I scroll through the library of videos searching for a 20-minute session that will hopefully loosen my hips and lengthen my hamstrings.

I don't roll out a mat or change my clothes. I don't reach for blocks and bolsters. Hell, half the time, the dog is laid out on our clearance Target rug to the point that I'm sequestered to a 3-foot-by-4-foot space. But I sit there. I pull out the flesh from underneath my sit bones and breathe.

In. Out. In through the nose. Out through the nose. Inhale. Exhale.

As I find myself in downdog, midway through a video, I find myself peering under the couch. A V-Tech ambulance. A keychain that Miles won during an American Heart Association fundraiser. The zip pouch where I attempt to store my crochet hooks. I say "attempt" because with two boys, anything is free game and anything that can be held is instantly a sword.

My head rotates to the right, catching glimpse underneath the TV stand. A Pampered Chef catalog. A tangle of cords and pieces of forgotten mail.

I return to center, focusing on the effort to ground myself between my thumb and forefinger to drive my hips a bit higher -- a loose term considering my lack of flexibility. I blame 50K training.

My practice isn't perfect. It's not serene. It's not always regular. Busy weeks, I never make it to the rug. Others, when I find myself groping for something, I find that seated position two times, three. Sometimes even four.

But it's there.

A small seed that I am starting to water. Feed. I can see it sprout, pushing up through the loose grains of dirt. Straining to find the sun.

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