Tuesday, January 03, 2006

How I learned to stop worrying & love the block...

I can't hop backwards.

To be more specific, I can't stand in a forward bend, plant my hands on the ground, bend my knees, and shoot my feet backwards to land in a plank/push-up position.

I can't do it because my body does not seem to know which muscles are involved in such a jump. My brain knows that it's a little about the legs and probably quite a bit about the stomach, but combining all the necessary actions and shifts of balance into one fluid motion escapes me.

It may also be about trust; I don't fancy a belly-flop onto my mat, even from only 8 inches.

I've been working on this move. I used to just step backwards, the modification the yoga teachers offer. Then I became determined to figure it out. I began stepping backwards more vivaciously, a little spring in my step. I totally can hop backwards, but I do it one foot before the other. Doesn't quite qualify as "shooting my feet back into plank," sadly.

Today, substitute yoga teacher. She subbed once before, when my initial suspicions regarding unfamiliar teachers gave way to complete respect for her creative and difficult sequences. I was happy to see her today, figuring I'd get a workout and probably stretch some muscles that don't get stretched enough.

She had us put a yoga block between our legs. We had to do a sequence of asanas while holding the block in place with our thigh muscles. And one part of the sequence was hopping back into plank.

You can't hold a block in place if you hop with one leg before the other. I knew instantly that this was either going to lead to a breakthrough or a complete roadblock for me.

The first attempt, it took me several seconds to figure out how to move my feet at all! I mean, my feet were planted, rooted, cemented to the ground. It was like the laws of physics had changed and I was incapable of movement. I mustered a tiny, ragged hop backwards, then another, and another, until I finally reached plank.

The second time through, it took me only two pathetic hops, the kind of movement that is nothing like dance, the kind of movement that happens out of sheer will, every part of yourself working against every other part.

The third time, my legs shot back into plank. It was un-beautiful, but I did it.

Scaffolding.

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