2009 – the Year in Poses

13 January, 2010

I overstated the badness of 2009 yesterday. After all it was replete with opportunities for spiritual progress (or I’ve been reading too much Eckhart Tolle). As far as my physical practice is concerned, it was a year of extremes. I practiced 217 times last year. I know this because I have a log (more on that in some other time – it’s not as lame an idea as it sounds). That’s 10 fewer times than in 2008. But the quality of my practices made up for that.

Last summer, I hit a peak which I now sometimes think might represent the all time height of my physical practice in my life. I practiced 28 times in May. These were the days I tell you. I glided seamlessly from one pose to another, slipped my legs behind my head with nonchalant ease, lifted into the deep arching back-bends that girls do all the time, and casually clocked up 2.5 hour practices that went well into the second series.

Once after practice my teacher said to me ‘you probably don’t realize it Ash, but you’re on the verge of big changes’ (It was a bit cryptic and I have no idea if he was actually talking about my practice). These were the days when Doug Swenson, was sufficiently convinced by my practice to invite me to demo Ashtanga on the Toronto Yoga Conference main stage with him. These were the days when I picked up Mark Hyman’s ‘The UltraMind Solution’ and went caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten, dairy trans-sat fat free for six weeks. 10 lbs fell off me like a belt-less pair of 32s as I went to a 28 waist. I starting supplementing with Omega 3, B12, B6, D3, Folic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium, plus the usual multivitamin. People asked me what I was taking – it was that obvious that I was now operating in a new gear.

But it went pear shaped big-style come Fall. By September it was 12 practices and then in October a paltry 8. My wife broke her right knee-cap in September and I came face-to-face with understanding and letting go of my attachment to the physical practice. I had to yield. I had to step into bigger responsibilities than mastery of ‘Pigeon’. I think I’ve been pretty good at the 50/50 parent gig, but now I had to be 80 or 90 as my wife lost the ability to walk (never mind carry, bathe, rock an 8-month old around). And, being me, I added ‘small’ projects like finishing the basement (myself) and getting a Geothermal heating and cooling system put in. Something had to give and it was my physical practice.

But in a way it was good for my bigger practice to step off the mat and come to terms with the lopsidedness of my Yoga. Equanimity and acceptance, responsibility and non-attachment is what I picked up in Fall (either that or I’m reading too much Eckhart Tolle).

An Overdue Update

11 January, 2010

The nature of my last post really demanded an update considering the sympathy expressed.  I was remiss in not providing it.  As explanation I’ll just say that 2009 was a contender in the ‘most difficult, challenging, painful’ year category and blogging, for all its cathartic value, didn’t really rate highly.

If you want to measure the impact of neuroblastoma, you might draw up a 2×2 matrix: along the top, you have discover – ‘early’ and ‘late’; and down the side you would have pathology – ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Drishti’s case fell into the top left box – her tumour was found early and found to have a ‘good’ pathology. A good pathology means that her cancer appears to be spontaneously regressing. It’s shrinking. It has disappeared from her liver, and what is left on the adrenal gland is just half it’s original size. When I query our daughter’s oncologists about the ‘disappearing cancer’ they can’t really offer an explanation and what I get is ‘It just does that sometimes and nobody’s quite figured out exactly why’.

Fair enough. Who cares so long as it does just go away. It suffices to say that Drishti’s well; beautiful, cheerful and full of mischief. She’s not out of the woods. But she’ll manage. Her biopsy sample is of value to those who study cancer and apparently it is being examined closely – yet so young and to have contributed so much to the betterment of humanity!

Maybe. But she definitely contributed to the betterment of her Dad. I’ll never be quite the same.  The struggle for me is to hold onto the clarity of vision that I acquired in those challenging weeks and months when all the detritus of life fell away and I saw in the starkest light how so little of what I fretted about and valued actually mattered. The vision’s gone a little blurry again. It was bound to with the return of normality. But it’s still clearer than it was.