Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Push Through? Pull Back?

I signed up for a yoga class, to support my home practice. We are on week two, and I'm on week two of hurting myself. OK, universe, I get it. Or, I'm trying to get it, in any case. Nothing is seriously wrong. And, in any case, I did it to myself. (This morning my back froze up during the dangerous and daring activity of unloading the dishwasher. I must have made something vulnerable last night at yoga, is my thinking.)

I'm on this gentle path toward elite fitness, which, for already-elite athletes, sounds really silly. They are all about working through pain and muscling forward. They talk with glee about workouts that are so hard you have to "throw up in a bucket" afterward. I can be that way, right enough, but I have too many things on my plate to be serious about that path toward fitness. So, I'm carving out a new niche.... the couch-to-kick-butt-fitness training plan, which involves lots of riding my bike, yoga, a smidge of rock climbing and weight training, and even less swimming. Athletes would call it "base-building," I suppose. I call it getting off the couch and having fun. Categorically, though, I am rejecting the rhetoric of the athletes that says that just because I can't train 20 hours a week, I can't play in their playpen. I bet they're wrong ;) But I'm also rejecting the notion that just because I'm five minutes younger than God and 40 pounds heavier than I should be, that I should settle for less than my real goals.

And my body is waking up, no question. A year ago, there were yoga postures that I thought were forever lost to me. I modified everything. It took so long to get into a posture that what ought to have been a 1/2 hour practice took an hour and a half. I feel better, now. I can DO things. But clearly, something is amiss, and naturally I think the question is bigger than just yoga.

The universe is offering an existential question. What do you do when the wrong thing feels right? How do you even figure out that it's wrong, before it's too late? These days I always feel a little bit of pain. Apparently this is what happens when you let your health deteriorate. I'm astounded that people consider living like this, but that's another blog post. Yoga feels so good. It's hard work sometimes, but there's this delicious feeling of re-inhabiting my body. Moreover, I thought I was accommodating my limitations. I try to distinguish between the "ouch" of stiffness, which can be gently challenged, and the sterner, sharper "ouch" that means "stop right now; this is not a conversation."

But there's a whole lot of gray area in the middle, and apparently I'm choosing "push through" when I ought to be choosing "pull back." This is an affront to my nature. Let's just posit that if I KNOW something is wrong, I stop. (Ignore the fact that there is very little historical evidence to support this claim. Clearly this is a learning point for me.) But how do you distinguish between the two? There must be signals that I am missing.

Either that, or unloading the dishwasher really is dangerous and I should cease and desist with all housework. Oh wait.... I already did :)

No comments: