Yoga and other drugs

November 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

I don’t have an addictive personality where that term is typically used. I like to drink occasionally in social settings, and don’t have any use for illegal drugs, but that’s not to say I don’t get addicted to other things. My addictions just don’t run along those lines. I lose myself in other things, like the number 13 (and 313), my birthday, HBO shows, bread, jazz hands, amongst others. So when my curiosity got the better of me one summer night 9 years ago, it wasn’t unusual to see how a future yoga addiction came to be.

The first time was a little scary, but I went in and lay down in the dark, awaiting what would become one of the most awesome sensations ever. Most people go in thinking it’s all fun and high times, but they soon realize exactly what they’re getting into, as I did, when they’re sweating on the floor, standing up, balancing on one leg, and sitting cross legged. Capping the sweat session with ten minutes of relaxation, I opened my eyes to a rose-coloured world. I was on cloud 9, on a completely natural high. I suddenly understood why yogis seem to live life with a smile on their faces, complete with untamed hair and breathy speech. Smile on my face, I realized I had finally found MY workout. And I haven’t let it go since then. Untamed hair I’ve already got, breathy speech soon to come.

Naturally, I pushed my practice further, and it wasn’t long until I was introduced to inversions. Some I could do, others I failed time and again. Bakasana (or crane pose) was one of the latter. Try as I might, I couldn’t get it. I gave up on it as I am wont to do (I was a champion quitter when I was a kid), but it didn’t sit well with me that I couldn’t do it. So when my Ashtanga teacher mentioned she was holding a workshop on arm balances and inversions, I signed up, resolving to prove myself wrong. I could and would tackle this. I also got a taste of the high times when she helped me into a Salamba Sirsana (supported headstand). I was ready to view life upside down, balancing on my hands.

My friend D and I took the subway down to the studio. I was in a bad mood Saturday into Sunday morning, so I was hoping I’d get a good hit of my drug of choice. Class started, we warmed up, and then quickly got into technique. D helped me get into the supported headstand again, and there was my frown turned upside down. Litterally and figuratively. Bad mood vanished, we moved into a variety of inversions, with lots of hijinks that you can imagine accompany being on one’s hands (such as toppling sideways onto the floor, or landing on one’s knee – OUCH).

When we finally got to crane, I faced a familiar foe, slightly skeptical of my abilities. I lowered myself on my hands, tucked my knees into my armpits, and began to lean forward. “Do not look down, look in front of you,” my teacher said. I did, and suddenly there I was, balanced on my hands, knees on my triceps, feet in the air. What? I could barely believe myself until I heard my teacher congratulate me for getting it right. I plopped back down, and went for it again, and again, and again. I’d found a new layer of addiction within a well established one.

As is typical, I left the workshop totally high, 180° away from where I had started. There’s nothing like changing your perspective to shift out of your bad mood. Sometimes it’s a mental perspective change, other times you just gotta flip onto your head and stick those legs in the air. Or balance on your arms, whatever. Reaching the Holy Grail of my yoga practice was what I like to call A TOTAL QUEST SUCCESS!

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