May 15, 2005 in It is what it is - opinion column | Comments (0)


Your engines are racing, your gaze sharp and your heart thumping.
Then an incredible, almost erotic tingle begins. For some it starts in the extremities. For others it emerges as a deep vibration from the core.
It’s delicious and seductive this feeling, but it feels dangerous. Do you give in? Do you pull back? The feeling continues to rise, the sensation growing stronger … You’re at the brink …

… and all you’re facing is a decision between grande or venti.
Okay, so perhaps the sane (translation – polite, socially conscious folks) of us don’t exactly snap to this level of heightened reaction in such situations; but then again, the sane of us also tend to wait our turn in line and not get bent out of shape over such silly things.
That sensation of fight or flight comes in many flavors, and it seems to me that in today’s break-neck, Mach 3 resting state kind of world, we’ve become so desensitized to it, that existing in that tightly wound state has become status quo.
The problem with making this solid state of high octane living your baseline is that it renders you immune to other moments of adrenaline rush. Kind of like drugs. Do one drug long enough and you build a tolerance, which means you must do more of the drug to induce the same type of high, which means you continue taking more and more and more …
Well, you get the picture.
As for me, I’m glad to report that apart from the occasional regression, I’ve pretty much left the shaking-my-fist-flipping-off-leaning-on-horn-fuck-off behavior in some of the old life baggage cast off in the last emotional port of call.
But recently I realized that my detox process wasn’t nearly done.
My epiphany hit in yoga class.
The instructor was leading us through a basic vinyasa, talking through each asana. As we settled into each pose, she would talk us through the proper alignments, explaining the delicate balances we sought to attain. For every minute muscle manipulation, for every gentle skeletal adjustment was a direct, opposite move. The trick – achieving balance between the two.
So there I was, deeply engaged in Paschimottanasana – also known as a forward bend – struggling with the always-present tension that seems to cluster in my right hip.
“Breathe,” murmured the teacher. “Focus on your upper leg, rotating gently inward. Make the rotation from the hip. You should feel an opening in your sacral area. Go deeper. Breathe.”
Now, I don’t know if you do yoga, but when you’re upright and hinged at the waist with your torso hanging upside down, focusing on anything other than the blood that’s rushing to your head is a welcome activity.
I have no idea whether or not I was rotating anything, but slowly I began to feel a release in my lower back. It was as if that pesky sacral band the teacher mentioned had just heaved a huge sigh of relief.
If you’re familiar with the Broadway musical A Chorus Line you may remember that song “Nothing”. If you’re not, then click on that link I just put there and take a listen – though please don’t think that I’m endorsing this particular singer. Frankly, she sucks, but at least you’ll hear the lyrics and can join the rest of the gang with my story here …
Anyway to my point … that song is about this Puerto Rican actress who finds herself unable to experience the feelings that her classmates seemed to so easily emote. This had been me in yoga. I’m a pretty athletic sort and moderately flexible so I was fine in terms of being able to physically handle the class, but for the most part the spiritual balance and synchronicity stuff had been eluding me.
Until now.
With that deep yawn and release in my lower back I could actually feel a connection to something bigger – a sort of greater energy that generated peace and relaxation while simultaneously energizing and stimulating me.
In that moment, all those tense moments of fight or flight melted away. There was no need to stand on guard. Suddenly, I was at peace.
“Hooray, I’ve managed to reach some sort of yoga breakthrough,” I thought. Of course, acknowledging this state brought my consciousness back into focus, and when my mind realized what had happened, the muscles snapped back into place – more taut than a guitar string – and boom – I went down like a bag of bricks.
The moral of the story?
Not sure there is one except maybe to make sure that when you buy a yoga mat that you make sure it’s nice and thick so that if you fall over you have something to cushion the blow.


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