Reflections on an ashtanga practice at nearly 58 …
Ehlers-Danlos … and how it’s all getting better and better
The texture has changed. This is what strikes me this morning about my ashtanga practice – the weekly full series. Like an ordinary miracle, all the body conditioning, weights, pilates, ballet barre – and of course not doing yoga every day (but rather a bit of this and a bit of that) has organised my tissues. I don’t feel so much like two pieces of knotted spaghetti (overcooked), more like a body of solids and fibres, levers and springs – calibrated.
Muscle density > proprioception > embodiment: the felt sense that I am here in this body, filling it, pushing through its pores, not just joints and bones and a few ragged sinews.
There’s a reason they call it ‘the change’. It becomes impossible to go on in the same direction. And from that surrender, that willingness to throw in the towel, came an invitation into something that turned out to be miraculously expansive. First there was the expansion of completely giving up: the exhalation, and the utter freedom, the wide open skies. And then the expansion in capacity. Followed by: the resurrection of fallen structures, old abandoned postures … an architrave becoming usable here, a surprising buttress, columns, pilasters, even the curly Corinthians standing up out of the rubble. It was impressive, and it had foundations.
Praise be also to pandemic life for the finishing touches: relief from choices, stimmuli, days that start in the small hours, running from pillar to post; for releasing me from exhaustion, first, and then into … energy. There’s no going back from here.
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I’ve written so much in this place about aging with ashtanga as a process of reduction (or at least that’s my memory of what I’ve written): injury and pain and hypermobile tissues. And in the end, of course, all we have is only on loan. Eventually, the ticket’s up and we have to hand the whole lot back in. In the meantime, though, who knew there could be so much exponential increase, so much enjoyment, so much power, aged 57 (nearly 58) with Ehlers-Danlos? It isn’t a story I’ve heard anywhere else. But it’s the one that’s happening to me now.