Sunday, June 26, 2011

What the Governator Taught Me About Laghuvajrasana

Yes, I'm referring to Arnold Schwarzenegger. You know, that BEEFCAAAAAAAAKE megalomaniac sex-fiend? Yessiree, he taught me something about yoga.


A couple weeks ago, I went to a screening of "Pumping Iron". It's a cult-classic documentary from the late '70s about the world of bodybuilding. And of course, it stars good old Arnie, pre-Hollywood fame. He was already the 5-time Mr. Universe/ Olympia winner by this time and was defending his 1975 title for the last time before retiring from bodybuilding. A 24-year old Lou Ferrigno, aka The Incredible Hulk, also makes an appearance as the "pipsqueak" upstart who hopes to take the title from old-man-Arnie (or rather, Lou's dad seems more intent on this).

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this. It is a HILARIOUS documentary that gives a good glimpse into the mindset of what it takes for world domination. At least in the bodybuilding world. And actually, maybe this same narcissistic god-complex is required to make it in Hollywood too. And maybe also in politics, if Arnie's behaviour and later accomplishments in life are anything to go by.

There are some priceless gems spouted out of Arnie that make you go "WTF?!? This guy ACTUALLY became the Governor of California and was seriously considering running for President?!" Case in point, my favourite WTF moment when he was talking about how bodybuilding made him feel:

"It's as satisfying to me as, uh, coming is, you know? As, ah, having sex with a woman and coming. And so can you believe how much I am in heaven? I am like, uh, getting the feeling of coming in a gym, I'm getting the feeling of coming at home, I'm getting the feeling of coming backstage when I pump up, when I pose in front of 5,000 people, I get the same feeling, so I am coming day and night. I mean, it's terrific. Right? So you know, I am in heaven."
- Arnie

... ... ...

I mean, seriously right?!? I was in hysterics with a good LOL. (Especially considering the whole fiasco with his housemaid in the past month)

Anyway, while doubled over in laughter, Arnie also said something else that made me recall what my yoga teacher was telling me about building up my leg strength for Laghuvajrasana. She said that I should go down and come up a few times, going down lower each time, or at least training myself to keep dipping down lower each time before holding there for the final 5 counts. If I don't do this, my body will never get used to how it should be pushing itself lower to the ground.

Arnie basically said the same thing about doing reps in training. He said his competitor would do 10 reps of something, but he would go beyond this, doing an extra few more... coz "the last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That's what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they'll go through the pain no matter what happens."

OK, so maybe only the first sentence in that quote is applicable. The rest is completely egotistical, unyogic and totally not applying Ahimsa to one's self.


Well, at least I got something out of that, right? Basically - don't be a wuss. To get the hang of Laghu, I should just rinse-and-repeat like my teacher and Arnie say. From a physical point-of-view, at least I know what good I'm doing.

Yeah Arnie, I'm gonna be a champion, just like you! *cough*


Friday, June 10, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Union... With Pain?

As my boss instructed, I've been going to yoga this week. And I've noticed something interesting I hadn't noticed before.

After a month of on-and-off flakey practice, without any semblance of even the full Primary series at any one point in time... Getting back on the mat again was of course going to be brutal. Apart from the obvious muscle atrophy - OK, that's a bit dramatic but you know what I mean with the loss of strength and flexibility... I also started to notice how out of alignment I'd become - that weird scoliosis in my tailbone that's twisting my pelvis hadn't been noticeable in the last month, but in the last week since I've been back on the mat, my pelvis and back have started to feel out of whack again. The knots in my shoulders and neck which hadn't been noticeable in the past month have suddenly flared up again and are screaming out for help. So I've booked an appointment with my Osteopath.

With the amount of bodywork I've had over the years, I know that these chronic issues didn't just "suddenly flare up". They've always been there, I just haven't been tuned in enough to feel them. Which makes me wonder... I've tended to "blame the yoga" for some of these muscle knots and aches that I've had. It's easy to think this way especially since I'm starting to feel them again now that I've started up my practice again.

Now I'm realizing that it's not actually the physical yoga that's causing these knots and aches. My body issues are there and have been there... The yoga's just helped me tune into them. In the past couple of years, I've learnt that most of my issues are simply posture and ergonomics when I sit at my desk, coupled with the effects of the scoliosis. I can't believe that a month without practice had made me so out of tune with my body - to the point where it didn't feel like I had anything wrong. Actually, I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. Coz now that I'm more in tune and feeling these aches and pains, I've gotta spend more money to do something about it!

Yoga as "Union" - a blessing and a curse at the same time. HA!

So it's back to the Osteo tomorrow for a bit of a tune-up.

In other practice news, I've still been working on standing back up from dropbacks. It's touch and go: sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't. Today, teacher M said something so many teachers before her have told me "You're thinking too much about it. Don't think, just do." She told me to stop rocking back and forth so many times before standing up, coz she can see me starting to analyze the move the more I rock. HAHA! (I think I usually take about 4 rocks before hurling myself up?) So I cut it down to about 2 (I think? I dunno, I wasn't counting. See? I stopped thinking about it!) And her advice worked! Somehow when there's a teacher's eagle-eye on you too, you're just able to channel something from within and just do it. Weird.

Also, since my practice at the shala has been sporadic, I've only mostly been practicing the Primary series while I've been there. I've started to add back my Intermediate poses again and today teacher M asked "You're not doing Kapotasana?" I replied my last pose given was Laghuvajrasana. And she dangled the carrot in front of me by saying "Oh, I think you're ready for Kapo, but let's see you practice through Laghu a few times more first if that's been your last pose."

Holy shit! OK, I know you're not supposed to want poses and to be honest, I'd given up hope already having been stuck at Laghuvajrasana for 1.5 years now. HAHAHA! So this is kind of exciting. There is some kind of method to this madness of being given poses... Right now, I'm finding it's injected a renewed enthusiasm for my practice. I could've mail-ordered a pair of Lululemons for a similar effect, but somehow this feels more satisfying. And smug. ;) I'm allowing my ego some room here even though I'm TOTALLY counting my chickens before they hatch (which never bodes well, so the ego will be properly put back in place in no time...) :p

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