Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Range of Motion

Sunday at rock climbing my hands were doing this weird thing they do -not closing around the thing I'm trying to grasp. And it's easy to see how that would be un-helpful in a rock climbing context. It does make an interesting metaphor, but we'll leave that for another day. I realized I had been neglecting yoga the week before, so I'm back to a regular practice this week.

As I work my way back to yoga this year, I'm having a hard time finding guided practices that are easy enough. I have a few, but mostly the ones I have are from a different time in my life. Last night I tried Shiva Rea's lunar practice from the Yoga Shakti DVD. I had to laugh; after an hour pretty much all I had done was the same posture over and over.

She wants me to do this.
My knees won't do that. I'll just modify like this.

.... over and over and over. But I almost always modified the same way, so I did the same posture again and again and again. Is this even doing any good??

I used to think, while doing yoga as a hyper-flexible person, that I simply wouldn't tolerate an inflexible body. I modified postures, but mostly based on things that will never change -like my height or arm length. My limber muscles allowed for a complete range of motion in almost any direction (my upper back has always been a holdout), and I wondered why one would accept anything less. Well, the Greek myths were right; hubris had the result it usually does.

But the opposing questions of hubris or being satisfied with too little are still around. Some limitations I can confront head-on. I have a working sense of how far I can nudge myself forward in uppavista konasana, for example. I'm not as flexible as I used to be, but I sense it's all still there waiting for me. It feels good to work my intelligent edge. Do I do the same thing with my knees, though? It doesn't feel right, so I don't.

If we let this process become a metaphor, it's not hard to see where it's going. Given my previous life experience with making myself small and still -which on some level led to these limitations- I am disinclined to limit my range of motion, ever again. I would prefer to work muscles and joints and life-skills, even if it hurts. Limiting myself taught me not to even notice anger, to accept very little from my life partner, to think that very little was all I deserved, and to step back from risk because certain humiliation awaited. None of that led to a life anyone would want to claim. My place in the world became tinier and tinier. At at least one point, I thought I would literally vanish. Not that I had a plan for doing anything to end my life; I just thought it would happen. I would disappear.

But when do I, both physically and metaphorically, extend and when do I hold back? How do I assess the difference? I'm afraid, now, of risking too little -of treating myself too gently. I'm deeply suspicious when someone suggests that I'm too old or too...something else... to even expect to be able to do something-or-other now. But I would also like to avoid ending up in a body cast or permanently injured.

Or maybe fragile knees aren't a metaphor at all and this whole thing is becoming needlessly tortured. Just haul yourself to a physical therapist and stop whining????

1 comment:

Catherine said...

are you reading my mind(angst)? I'm appalled at the waning of my physicality and the aggravations of my impending cronehood...
Can't decide if my new lack of interest in raging at The Man (both personally and politically) is a sign of maturity or a disappearing act.