SLIII: time to be small • 10 May 2008

Friday night I lay under the bath and listened to the echoes in the pipes and the footfalls in the outside corridors. Resonant under the hot eucalyptus water I was asking to seep into my trapezius and left levator scapula. I was out late and all excitable on Thursday night, and after I finally went to bed the left l-s, which has been touchy all week, cramped so hard it woke me in pain. Weird and so awkward, and it’s slow to release no matter who puts their hands on it or how quietly I ask it to let go. 

Notes to self: Fifteen months ago I shifted my atlas on the axis jumping into a bad tripod, and the sub-occipital ache and loss of cervical rotation the following week made me become protective of alignment in the neck. In finishing, I rarely put my head to the floor in sirsasana, and in the tripods of third I take most of the weight in my shoulders and hands. Great for cervical alignment, but oven time this overdistribution of work into the levator scapulae, traps and even the scalenes has grown a little harsh. A teacher asked me to step into forearm balances rather than jumping, I realized that in doing so I reverted back—in a good way—to using the base rather than the neck for support (makes sense: when I practiced by stepping up was back before I’d developed this intense mode of l-s/trap/scalene work). At this point I will learn to work inversions more from pure balance than weighting the base with so much contraction. I ask students what they need their traps for in standing postures as a kind of inquiry-based release mechanism; and it’s time to ask myself why I need them in arm balances. Meantime, the poor battered l-s is pulling my medicine ball head back and to the left in the stupidest way, causing an enormous energy drain, awkward lane changes, shameless neckrub solicitation, and a little Advil habit.

Under the water listening to the pipe symphony, and with my ear to the floor at the Masonic Temple listening to the dance of the accelerated culture, I feel small. Brian May, the queen guitarist who became an astrophysicist, was on the radio talking about the sublimity of contemplating his own smallness—how much more awesome to think on the stars above than himself as a star on a stage. I will bury myself in the bath; go to the weekend's parties without thinking so much about it; and see old art with our brilliant visiting friend Indiana that- belongs- in- a- museum Jones. Let the guitar lines from Interpol’s song play in the back of my mind day after day. Who says Angelenos are afraid to merge? I am looking for opportunities to feel small, because it is beautiful. Besides, there may be limits to the old strategy of breathing in to the muscle and asking it to release… oddly I feel that this time leaving the body might be a better release strategy than burrowing back inside.

Links: Brian May interview, NYT on building new habits.