Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Speeding up, slowing down

I am back to listening to my beloved podcasts after winding up the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy and finishing Bill Moyers' interviews with Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth." My listening to various books on tape (actually, on iPod) has taken the place of reading, since I routinely am in the car for well over an hour a day and sometimes twice that.

Also listening to ... On a whim, I checked out a translation on CD of the ancient epic warrior tale, "Gilgamesh." So far, it is quite racy! I think Austin had to read some translation of this story for a dual-credit literature class in high school.

I listened to an interesting download back from Feb. 12. Terri Gross of "Fresh Air" fame interviewed author William Broad discussing yoga, dangerous poses, its erotic and mystical history, and its undeniable health benefits. Here it is if you'd like to read about it or have a listen:
Yoga podcast

One of my favorite parts was Broad's discussion of how he himself was injured while practicing yoga, which he has done since the 1970s. He was in an advanced class with some much younger (and more flexible) women doing a difficult pose. He was enthralled by one such woman who was also doing the pose, and while chatting with her, he bent over more than ever before to show how capable he was. Then his back went out and he experienced immediate and excruciating pain, collapsed, and lay in a motionless heap as his classmates and instructor gathered around in alarm! That injury took a couple of months to overcome, he said.

It sounds so much like something that could happen to me! In my case, I would be mentally competing against this young, flexible woman and proving I could do just as much as she could, until --- creeeaak!

Anyhow, I learned that yoga is similar to meditation in that it is relaxing. It slows the heart rate and the metabolism -- although new practitioners tend to feel like it's hard work.

The author, Broad, also told a story (fable?) from the 1800s about a yogi who agreed to be buried for 40 days and nights to show the power he had attained over his own body. Of course, the 40 days are symbolic of a perfect measure of time, as in all the times in the Bible that something happened over 40 days (or years). This yogi was unearthed 40 days later, and his body was cold and stiff. Then he opened his eyes, gradually reanimated and huskily whispered to the ruler who had doubted him, "Do you believe me now?" That's how much the practice of yoga by a truly advanced practitioner can really slow down the body, apparently!

Apparently, it is important for the body to have moments it speeds up (as in cardiovascular workouts) and also moments that it slows down. Yin-yang!

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