I’m still running the trails as I told myself (and you, dear invisible readership) that I would. I knew my luck wouldn’t hold out with all the dry sunny weather I’d been getting, and I so I’d inevitably face the choice of skipping days where the trails were muddy, or just embracing the sludge and going with its flow.
After a couple of stormy nights chased the sunny weather away, I decided it was time to become Luke Skywalker training on Dagobah, and damn the mud.
But in all seriousness, my physical training has indeed taken on a decidedly more Dagobah feel to it regardless of the environment. Here’s why.
Y’see, a number of my friends are yoga enthusiasts, and they’d been telling me how all it takes is a quick session on the mat and they’re instantly back to being grounded, centred, happy, and stress free. In some cases, all they need to do is picture being on the mat and they’re instantly more at peace when they can’t get away from a stressful, even life-threatening situation.
My instant reaction was “I could use some of that!”
I’d done a class in Qi’Gong and Tai Chi before, and I remember feeling this sense of inexplicable euphoria that came with it. I had thought that the effect must be the same in yoga. It sure sounded like it.
But what exactly is it about Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi’Gong that produces this effect?
That’s not a rhetorical question that I’m setting myself up to answer, here. I’m just genuinely asking. I’m definitely no expert, and I won’t pretend to be, but I do remember catching other moments like that in my life.
Thinking back to my youth, I was for a few years a devout student of Kenjutsu. I remember going out into the woods over a couple of Summers with my wooden practice sword and a copy of the “Go Rin No Sho” to practice and contemplate. This wasn’t something I took lightly, either, and I checked in regularly with teachers to make sure my technique was still in-line. Like other Japanese art forms, you can get really caught up in the minutiae if you like, and that can be really helpful for a sense of discipline and focus.
The proscribed techniques involved in kenjutsu suburi involved a lot of controlled breathing, careful muscle movement, and repetition. Lots of repetition. Of course, focusing carefully on the details of your technique helped to clear the mind of all but what was present around you, and the vigorous physical exercise that accompanied it helped to ensure a good flow of blood and oxygen.
Everything burned afterwards too.
Does this sound familiar to any yoga pracitioners out there?
Without understanding, or even really putting a value on it – I came away feeling weirdly good in ways I didn’t understand.
In thinking about that now, I’ve realized that this sort of training has been sorely missing from my life in the last few years. To remedy that, I’ve begun a new personal ritual of running along the trails to any point along the way that looks scenic or comfortable, and then I’ll spend some time there in simple, mindful, breathing meditation. Once I’m done, I get up, dust off, and run back home.
I’ve been doing that for nearly a week now and I’d say it’s done wonders for my sense of self and well-being. This week I’ve been able to zip out onto the sub-zero trails in my t-shirt and keep going until I found a nice sunlit field to sit down in and I’d spend about a half an hour or so just soaking up some sun and clearing the storms in my head, one breath at a time.
Now that it’s muddy, it’s harder to find a nice place to plant myself for an extended amount of time, but hey, I guess I’ll just have to deal with it. It is Dagobah afterall.
No, but really, what if I combined all these practices into one? Think about it – I could go running out into the trails with my wooden sword, jump over some obstacles, practice some sword strokes, and train with master Yoda. Er, train to master yoga.
I wouldn’t even have to worry about swamp monsters sinking my X-wing.
Crazy as all of that may sound, it would be an incredibly healthy and empowering routine even if it made me look like a lunatic. Regardless, I’ll look into what yoga is all about a little more deeply over time and see what bits and pieces I decide to cherrypick for myself.
Until next time.