Reflections task 18 + Task 19 – Vertical orientation

Dear Maria,

Thanks for your task. You can find my rambling reflections in the audio file. Below I have also transcribed fragments that stood out as important from this voice recording. Some of them are amended to correct meaning and take thoughts further.

Secrets

Getting annoyed is a good thing. It taps into a place of emotion and shaking up habits. It means change.

There is nowhere to hide. The importance of curves and irregularities. Things not being in line, not being predicable and as you’d expect. Otherwise there is nowhere to disrupt a flow. In my neighbourhood, houses and paths don’t have irregularities. Lawns and hedges are neatly trimmed. I have to bend the task so that the instruction to crawl into a hole, fits the linearity of the place I’m in.

I look for a place to fit into something, a hole or a cavity. Or is there a way of doing this internally? Instead of me fitting into a hide-away, the hide-away fits into me?

I find myself in a hedge. On a tree, against a tree. The trunk spreads into many branches. If I can’t talk my secret injuries away from the world but instead I have to speak into an open tree or a bush will the secrets not be kept secret? How does it affect how I speak and what I speak of if the tree doesn’t hold onto the stories?

I realise all my injuries, aches and pains are on the right side of my body: my right ankle, my right knee, my right psoas muscle, even a sprained finger on my right hand as a result of a play fight with an ex-boyfriend in 2007. Through time, they have moved up my body, defying gravity.

hmm

Task 19 – Vertical Orientation

You need to choose whether you’re going to place your focus on the right or the left side of your body. Whichever side you choose must wear a weight of some sort – a sandbag around the arm or a brick on the foot. (Avoid hanging something from your shoulder though) Wear it as much as you can when you’re around the house but also on the journeys you make during the day.

Now when you move let this ‘weighted’ side respond to your vertical orientation of the space you’re in. Go to your yoga mat and practise Urdvha Dhanurasana with the weight on.

Reflections Task 17 and Task 18 – Secrets

Dear Marie,

many thanks for Task 17. Below you can find my reflections, jumbled as you asked, and then Task 18.

I am lying on the yoga mat. The room is dark and it is late. Outside the leftovers of the super blue blood moon still shine brightly. The back of my wrists are against the skirting board and my elbows are bent and facing the ceiling. I am about to go into Urdva Dhanurasana (bridge posture).

Secret No 1: I haven’t done Urdva Dhanurasana for more than six years.

Thoughts are circling: Matisse, Iyengar, the effect of the moon on the waters, and a persistent whisper: ‘you will get injured’. I note the irony between my predicament and the movement of celestial bodies. Quite literally I do Urdva Dhanurasana every blue moon. ‘You will get injured’. 

Secret No 2: I practise back bends so rarely, I can no longer remember the names of basic postures.

I have prepared somewhat by doing some thigh stretches and ______ (can’t remember the name). I do remember how the posture should be done though, and how it  should feel when it is done ‘right’. ‘You will get injured’. 

Secret No 3: I tried Urdva Dhanurasana about two years ago. My shoulders were so stiff I couldn’t lift up. I hovered over the mat for a few seconds, my elbows helplessly locked. I came done defeated. I have not tried to do the posture since.

When I first looked at Matisse’s lithograph I  saw an imperative. The acrobat was to all intents and purposes doing a bridge.

I do the preparatory posture, whose name I can’t remember,  and try to evaluate the likelihood of an injury.

The two acrobats side by side conveyed to me a sense of ‘before’ and ‘after’. First was a body full of contours and mountains. After was a shape devoid of the exuberance of its surfaces, a body devoid of its unevenness.

I also remember to take a deep breath as I lift into Urdva Dhanurasana. To my surprise I notice my elbows straightening without a hitch, my thighs stretching, my feet remaining in parallel. I come down and wonder if I will manage to go to sleep. I lift three more times. 

Observing the two images  from right to left there is a slow realisation. I ‘know’ what has happened here. There is an elision of surface I can recognise. The changes from one acrobat to the other have an uncanny resemblance to the instructions of Urdva Dhanurasana:

  • the ankles need to be in the same line with the knees.
  • the flesh of thighs needs to move towards the thigh bone and the thighs should stretch.
  • the buttock flesh needs to move away from the lower back and flatten towards the body (have chapatis buttocks, Silvia used to say, not rotis).
  • The armpits need to open.
  • And the most virtuosic detail of all: the lower back needs to be at a right angle to the sacrum.

I play with the idea that Matisse knew about Iyengar Yoga. Or maybe Iyengar saw the Acrobats?

I make a mental promise to you Marie: to practise Urdva Dhanurasana more often. 

Task 18 – Secrets

You need to find a space that somehow can contain you, a hole in the ground,  the hollow of a tree, a corner between two walls. You need to be outside and alone, even if you are surrounded by other people.  Place yourself in this place with your face looking in and away from the world. You can close your eyes. List out loud all the injuries you ‘ve had. Stop when you can remember no more. Make sure you have some time afterwards to do your yoga practice. You can bring back to the blog any aspect of your experience of the task in any form.