It’s said that yoga—the practices and mind maps of the Ganges shamen and the northern cave recluses, and later the loinclothed attaches’ of Karnatakan princes—slows the aging process. If this were true, by what mechanism would it work? Though processes that increase the heart rate, speed breathing and generally put stress on the body? Or through processes that subsequently slow dooooooown body functions and remove stress from the system?
If one wanted the muscles to become longer, more optimally functional, more able to relax when not working, and ultimately more open… would the way to achieve that be by force? With pushing and pulling? Or… would an element of conscious, focused, skillful l e t t i n g g o probably need to be involved?
How long do you have to stand on your head before the buzz sets in? Three minutes upside down? Maybe five? How long does it take for the chemical-metabolic-systemic-whatever switchover to initiate in conscious relaxation? Did you know that conscious relaxation was a chemical process?
(Maybe that's a little sexier than go home take rest.)
(Conveniently, playing dead is easier than standing on your head.)
I can take rest in form, but not always in content. A month of really easy living helped, but things are different here of course.
The body is so chatty when I lie down. Itchy toes, out of kilter shoulder blades, uneven hands, all chatting up a storm for the first minute or two I lie there. Fine. Watch the body talk.
The kundalini and white tantra people do their crazy shaman rites on wool blankets because they believe that fiber alone insulates you from the strong energy of the earth. Well, this week I’ve been getting closer to the earth at the end, covering head to toe in an old wool blanket, cutting off from the room around me and making like fertilizer. The wool is heavy and dark, a little mulchy, and holds down the heat of my body. I imagine it’s the first layer of earth on the coffin, relax the tongue because Anna Wise seems to be on to something, and meditate on the boundary between the teeth and the jawbone until I’m out.
Coincidentally… I’m closer to acknowledging that this practice is beautiful. That it leads sometimes to grace and poetry.
A graduate program director has asked me to do yoga intervention for a group of art students who are collectively freaking out as they bring their MfA theses to completion. Yoga for art’s sake, for the sake of flow, for contacting the higher creative intelligence and not letting the jitters undermine artistic purpose. He can cover 60% my usual fee and that is all good—I know a little something about the special grad student rate. So yes; this is a cause I can support. But I need to be a focused, eeeeasy, high integrity presence myself in order to do them any good.