High to low

One of the first terms any new yogi, myself included, learns is chaturanga, a low push-up pose that is entered from a high push-up. Ideally your body hovers over the ground for a while, held up by arm strength, but for many of us (again myself included) there is a point at which belly (or chest, or forehead, or knees) collapse to the ground with exhaustion. But that’s OK. We’re working on it.

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Last weekend I enjoyed unseasonably warm New England winter weather with a pretty vigorous hike. I expected to wake up the next morning with some soreness in my lower body, which I did. I also woke up with quite a bit of soreness in arms. I rolled over and tried to remember how that would have happened. Did I lift something? Did I have to hoist myself over a wall? No, actually. I fell.

I didn’t realize this at the time, but I had fallen directly into chaturanga. After catching my foot on a weed (luckily, in a soft meadow rather than on rocky terrain) I broke my fall with my triceps and deltoids, those same muscles that tend to fail me on the yoga mat after a long day. I basically went from standing to low push-up (and then, in short order, to the ground).

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There are a lot of qualities we try to cultivate whose practicality isn’t readily apparent. Faith, hope and love, come to mind. But if I don’t try to strengthen them in myself now, they won’t be there when I need them.

I remember once, after a terrible loss, my mother saying “you know what? I’ve never once thought to myself ‘why me?’ about this whole thing.” She seemed surprised, but I wasn’t at all. If that wasn’t the person she was when things were well, why would she become that person when things went sour? Crisis doesn’t create character, it reveals it.

So I keep strengthening those many muscles that I don’t know when I’ll need. My arms, my heart, my soul, may all have challenges coming their way which I can’t even imagine. I hope to be ready.

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2 Responses to High to low

  1. Amy says:

    “I remember once, after a terrible loss, my mother saying “you know what? I’ve never once thought to myself ‘why me?’ about this whole thing.” She seemed surprised, but I wasn’t at all. If that wasn’t the person she was when things were well, why would she become that person when things went sour? Crisis doesn’t create character, it reveals it.”

    Loved this. Come to think of it, I’ve never asked myself that question either.

  2. Pingback: Five reasons I observe Lent (and two non-reasons) | Felice mi fa

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