Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wide Awake

Has my music taste changed so much that I actually listen to mainstream pop now?

I suppose that is possible.  Or perhaps, in search of a cure for my own acute insomnia, reading the most random comments imaginable interlaced with spam and profanity may be the key to dulling my senses.

In the meantime, the period between sleeping and awake, I contemplate the año nuevo.  Not the state park, but the first day of 2013, although I'd really like to work another SF-SD bike trip in this year which would include a flyby of the aforementioned state park.

What do I remember most from New Year's?  How could I forget when every muscle in my body still aches, even my intercostals and trapezius.  Rolling over in bed incites a vivid remind of just how human I actually am, the net result of 300 minutes of moving meditation.

I remember what it was like a quarter century ago when my father and I would spend all day at the club playing tennis.  We would come home wasted, cooked, and completely incapable of movement.  My mother would laugh while we sat on the wood floor in the hall.  Invariably my father would be asleep on the floor by 8pm, perhaps with a koozie of Olympia nearby.  It would be difficult for me to cleave apart nature and nurture with both influences seeming to align towards making me the fool that I have become.  However I do draw upon my past, specifically my college years when I did little to no exercise, and when I noticed how much I truly disliked being unhealthy.  I certainly feel that the desire to access physical transformation is buried within my DNA as well as baked into my brain from early childhood.

January first started off gently.  My tentative plan was to run in the ranch with Luc, catch a 10:30 class with Fukumura, and finish the day off with 108 Sun Salutations at my home studio.  It seemed fine until I realized that New Year's eve called for a 5:30 wakeup to help out the retail manager who is tasked with a quarterly inventory count, coupled with a commitment to a New Year's eve party in Normal Heights which meant a 30 minute drive home.  I decided at 7am that the run would have to wait, and took a more leisurely approach to the first morning of the year.

Shelley met up with Sonja and I for the Fuku class and we giddily laid out our mats and waited in anticipation of the magic.  To watch this man move is to experience a sense of dance coupled with weightlessness and elasticity.  As if it were made of clay, his body can twist in ways that I have never seen and yet he can do so effortlessly, as a reminder of the truly amazing capability of the human body. The best part of a Fuku class is working through something basic, something you've done hundreds of times in the past, but doing so with a fresh and focused perspective.  Take the jump switch for example, the transition between low lunge with R foot forward to low lunge with L foot forward.  The novice approach this as a physical challenge, perhaps a half mountain climber, an obstruction to be pushed aside, and sends one leg violently backwards while driving the other deep into the front of our mat.  Fuku's jump switch is a little different.  He graciously lifts up and lightly lands on his toe, meanwhile his other foot has teleported between his hands.  You don't even see that second part because you are too entranced watching the first.  There is no noise or vibration when this happens, the transition between stillness and motion is so seamless that it completely disappears.  This man can do things that make a cat seem crude and awkward.

So, after that #mindblown two hour part-workshop, part-vinyasa, part-sweaty-fun, Shelley, Sonja and I gathered some quick calories and headed off to the studio for 108 sun salutations.  There was some discussion of the significance of the number 108 and I while I knew it was one of the special numbers (like 8 is for the Chinese), I am sad that I did not read this article or this blog ahead of time.  Specifically this little tidbit of trivia which is sort of #mindblowing as well.

This number also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth: The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters.

The real beauty of 108 sun salutations, however, is that something which starts off as easy becomes challenging.  For those who don't practice, a sun salutation is equivalent to a stride before a run workout, a couple of laps before masters, or that first 2-3 minutes on the bike where everyone stays together and the bs quotient exceeds the work quotient.  While there can be vigor in downward dog, chaturanga, and tadasana, these poses are also some of the easiest and most natural to ease into with half measures and quarter efforts which are exactly how a warmup should begin.

Halfway through the class, which wound up corresponding to 45 out of 90 minutes but well past the 54th sun salutation, Ahlia gave us a verbal indication of having reached a halfway point.  This wound up being amusingly controversial as some participants took it as objective data indicating that 50% of the work remained.  Having experienced 108 sun salutations twice before, and having put myself through countless endurance events, I know how twisted numbers can become when scrambled into the context of a physical challenge.  Many of us who have finished a few marathons would agree that the increase in difficulty experienced during the final 10k cannot truly be measured inside the context of the difficulty of the first 10k.  It was therefore heartwarming that Ahlia chose not to give us any numerical feedback although she was counting with beads to make sure we did the correct number.

Once we reached the end and cooled off with a few supine poses, the net effects started to kick in.  While neither session was heated, both rooms were packed and body heat coupled with the humidity of a sweaty room had left all of us fairly depleted.  The call was for diet soda and a little recap at casa Melba.

One little gotchya, though.  Todd, having recently moved to the neighborhood, wasn't about to let me off the hook for a New Year's day run.  So, by the time I got home with soda, Todd has laced up and jogged the half mile to my door.  I threw on my shoes, grabbed Jack's leash, and we took off for a 60 minute tour of the Encinitas ranch trail system.  As sunset arrived, at the top of Westlake, I thanked Todd for the final beatdown and Jack and I headed home.  I slept heavy that night.

I'm not sure any of that explains why I am wide awake right now.  But it was a great tone to set for the new year, and it was a joyful day to remember, shared with friends, smiles, and plenty of sweat.  So I'm sort of still smiling as I remember how lucky I am, to be able to move, to be healthy, and to have the opportunity to share time with others in these simple ways.

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