Thursday, May 04, 2006

An Empty Mind

I'm now rounding out my first month of yoga, and it is kicking my ass. I had no idea that it would be this physical or difficult. It's Iyengar, which Keiko said is harder for bigger guys. We do a lot of balancing, a lot of core exercises, and a lot of twisting. And even though I thought I had pretty strong abs and delts, they're all burning by the end of the hour.

I do like that we don't get any of the spiritual mumbo-jumbo mixed in. We're not fixing our chakras so they flow better, or breathing fire out into the universe [tm Hollis]. Instead, it's all empty your mind and focus on your core and down. get your hips down. stop sticking your ass in the air you stupid haole.

Well, maybe not so much the last part.

I do pretty well with the 'emptying the mind' part. There's one pose - the eagle pose, garudasana - where we pretty much twist all our limbs around each other and then balance on one bent leg. It necessitates an empty mind. From Yoga Journal: For Garudasana you need strength, flexibility, and endurance, but also unwavering concentration that actually calms the fluctuations (vrtti) of consciousness.

It's simple: your conscious mind wavers in garduasana, you fall down. The first class I was determined not to be the first to fall. It wasn't easy. My mind wasn't empty. My mind was full of goddamn this hurts and how long can she make us hold this? I saw people start to sway and shake. I wished disgrace on my classmates. Somebody fall please somebody fall. The fat guy went down. That didn't count. Empty your mind. The old lady in the back corner toppled. Great. So far I'm tougher than the fat guy and the old lady. And I would sway and my leg would shake and I would cuss under my breath, but I was never the first to fall.

I was rescued by relativity. It goes like this:

I've been reading Einstein's Universe [Nigel Calder], and have been struggling to comprehend Einsteinian gravity. I finally have a slight grasp. Basically: there ain't no such thing as 'gravity' as a force. The shortest and easiest route through time is to accelerate towards the center, and it takes energy to do otherwise. Our senses interpret that acceleration as gravity.

So ... I'm doing my garuda imitation. My left foot is on the ground, my right leg is wrapped around the left, my butt is aiming backwards, and my elbows are pointing to the ceiling. I don't empty my mind, I fill it. I'm not fighting gravity, I tell myself. I am fighting time. Time is moving infinitesimally slower for my ass than my head, and if they are ever reunited then the latter will be ever so slightly younger.

I'll be close to finally visualizing the space-time continuum, Salome will be about to drop the seventh veil and reveal the secrets of the universe to me ... and the exercise will be over, and I'll realize that I didn't sway once.

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