Monday, January 9, 2012

Back to center

It's amazing how quickly time disappears when you're focused on putting one foot in front of the other - whether literally or figuratively.  In my case, a mounting caseload at work, finishing my half marathon and starting the training for my first full marathon, not to mention the holidays, made the last couple of months fly by.

I started doing Bikram Yoga as part of my marathon training; it builds strength and flexibility as well as providing much-needed mental clarity during and after 90 minutes of contortion in 100+ degree heat.  One of the amazing aspects of Bikram that I didn't anticipate, though, is how it has helped me come to a better understanding of myself, and of personal balance.

Rather than tell you what I mean, let me show you -- take a minute and stand up. Now, shift your weight to one leg and hold the other one up.  Stay there for 30 seconds, or as long as you can.  What do you notice about how you're balancing?

If you noticed what I noticed, you realized that balance isn't something you can find, and then be done with.  Your body shifts slightly and you have to constantly adjust your position to stay in the same place.

Like balancing on one foot, weight maintenance is about constantly revising, changing, shifting - just to stay in one place.  And if the ground shakes a little, sometimes you fall down and have to get back up and find a new balancing point.

The holidays were a minor earthquake for me.  Like most people, the overabundance of rich and delicious food plus the cold weather which has made it more difficult for me to motivate myself towards exercise, has resulted in about 12 extra pounds that I didn't want to be carrying and am now working to lose again.  A few of them are already gone.

Fortunately, yoga has also given me the opportunity to appreciate my body and its capabilities in a far different way than I have before.  By getting used to spending the entire class looking at my body in a mirror in various positions, I've developed a deep appreciation for how my body looks, and also how it responds when I try something new.

This is not to say there aren't things I would prefer to be different about my body's current architecture.  But I can honestly look at my entire self in the mirror and smile with satisfaction.

I have learned that my body is capable.  I know that my mind is capable.  I might struggle, and I might fall.  When that happens, I get up again and find center one more time.

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