There’s so much going on here that I don’t know where to begin commenting. A TEDTalk with no talking! I love the creativity and experimentation. It’s like Cirque du Soleil meets Tarzan Lord of the Jungle meets The Blue Man Group. The strength and control in the execution of movements is stunning. Check out the form of locomotion that happens at 6:18…how fun does that look??
Nope, we won’t be meeting for core awareness class tonight, I decided with a twinge of disappointment as I flailed and skated down the driveway on a solid sheet of ice. I’ve been stuck in the house for two days straight and I was really looking forward to getting some exercise and seeing the faces of friends. The disappointment faded as I stood taking in the scenery around me: the icicles adorning the magnolia tree and a pansy’s petals unfurled against the ice. I remembered two things in that moment. First, I had not intended the core awareness class to be merely physical exercise, but an exploration of the core in body, mind, and spirit. Second, I recalled excerpts from Parker Palmer’s words on winter:
The rigors of winter…are accompanied by amazing gifts…One gift is beauty…I am not sure that any sight or sound on earth is as exquisite as the hushed descent of a sky full of snow. Another gift is the reminder that times of dormancy and deep rest are essential to all living things. Despite all appearances, of course, nature is not dead in winter – it has gone underground to renew itself and prepare for spring.
That these memories were triggered by the sight of a pansy seems fitting as the pansy is a symbol of remembrance. Pansy comes from the French word pensée, which means thought. Given the hardiness of the flower I wonder why the word is sometimes used to imply wimpyness when it could be used as a compliment indicating one can flourish, despite harsh conditions. Why yes, I am a pansy, thank you.
In lieu of tonight’s class, I hope you’ll take some time to watch a talk on resilience by health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, to make time for deep rest, and to consider Palmer’s words:
Our inward winters take many forms – failure, betrayal, depression, death. But every one of them, in my experience, yields to the same advice: “The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them.” Until we enter boldly into the fears we most want to avoid, those fears will dominate our lives. But when we walk directly into them – protected from the frostbite by the warm garb of friendship or inner discipline or spirital guidance – we can learn what they have to teach us. Then, we discover once again that the cycle of the seasons is trustworthy and life-giving, even in the most dismaying season of all.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged core awareness, fitness, health, inspiration, lifestyle, psychology, stress, video, weather, winter, yoga
In our practice of core awareness we stretch and move in ways that help us learn new things about ourselves. Sometimes we assume yoga poses that take up a lot of space, for example Warrior I, II, and III. In these poses our stance is wide as we stretch our arms to their full span or reach skyward. At other times in our practice we fold into ourselves and lie close to the ground. In child’s pose for instance, we make ourselves as small as possible. In her book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, choreographer Twyla Tharp calls this latter exercise Egg and she does it daily. Using the movement as a metaphor, it is a physical lesson in solving an intellectual problem: How do you get a new project off the ground? Tharp writes,
Once you shrink yourself into a fetal ball, you have no choice but to do something expansive. You cannot hold the starting position forever, though you can hold it for as long as you like. Eventually, though, you’ll have to do something.
Reaching out, drawing inward – in yoga we are constantly exploring the boundaries of these oppositions and then holding them together to create balance and energy. The mind and body – they are connected. As Amy Cuddy’s research shows, the body shapes the mind and the mind shapes the body. Sometimes we forget this and as Ken Robinson suggests, the body can become just an elaborate system to transport the head around from meeting to meeting.
Amy Cuddy and Ken Robison’s Ted Talks have been inserted below. Both talks give fun and interesting perspectives on mind-body learning. Enjoy!
Amy Cuddy’s Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
Sir Ken Robinson’s How Schools Kill Creativity
Arthur’s story shows the transformative power of a regular yoga practice. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!