Friday, March 31, 2017

Yoga, T'ai Chi Chih, the Tibetan Five (which is Yoga) and Just Hoping for Good Luck

My mom aged pretty damn gracefully on her cigarettes and gin. She was a fun to be with, had lots of energy as a grandma, and powered forward after a traumatic lung surgery in 1970-something to live a regular hard working life. Her second lung surgery in 2009 didn't go nearly as well. She finally quit smoking a year or so after she moved in with me in 2012 at the insistence of her vascular surgeon, but even so, it was a slippery slope the last couple of years.

My daughter C., thinks our family might carry the Ozzy Osborne gene. I've always enjoyed drinking (nowadays I drink a lot less) and only twice in my life have I every been sick or even the least bit hung over from partying. But I feel the need for a different approach as I prepare to get on Medicare at the end of this year. After my mysterious illness a year ago I got a bit more serious about my T'ai Chi Chih practice, added more yoga to my week, and at the end of November I began practicing the Tibetan Five at home. The popular lore surrounding the Five makes some big claims about the fountain of youth and while I don't expect to wake some morning with black hair and a 125 lb. physique, I do feel stronger and think that the opening of the upper body and the strengthening of it is a definitely a good thing for me. I've tried to do various iterations of a home yoga practice for years and never was very consistent, but there are lots of videos online for the Tibetan Five. Because of that, and who knows whatever other reasons, the practice has become part of my routine and after beginning with only 5 reps of each of the 5 moves a few months ago, I've been up to the full 21 reps of all 5 moves for the past week or so. 

I also really enjoy reading about yoga and what it has to say about the physical body. Here are a few lines from  Light on Yoga by B.K. S. Iyengar:

      "The yogi feels that to neglect or deny the needs of the body and to think of it as something not divine, is to neglect and deny the universal life of which it is a part. The needs of the body are the needs of the divine spirit which lives through the body. The yogi does not look heavenward to find God for he knows that He is within, being known as the Antaratma (the Inner Self). He feels the kingdom of God within and without and finds that heaven lies in himself."

I've been aware of the divine in the natural world around me for most of my life, but my body often felt like it was only meant to get me into trouble. (Catholic school.) Nowadays, I feel in my bones (what an appropriate expression that is!) how it is the body that tethers us to all that we love in this life on Earth. I feel profoundly the loss of those loved ones who are now longer tied to this life, and I know too that someday I will let go of the tether. Until then I want to remind myself with these daily practices that there is a divine spirit that lives within this body of mine. 


Elizabeth said...

Thank you for all of this. You are an inspiration in spirit AND body. Beautiful inside and out -- always.

37paddington said...

I used to do the Tibetan 5. I wish I'd never stopped. It used to be so easy I thought it wasn't really doing anything. Now, it is so hard. But I do believe I need to get back to it, shredded knees and all. Thanks for this reminder.