It continues to be Indian summer: blue skies without clouds, gentle breezes, embracing sunshine, mid-70s. I have been outside every day by the Indiana State Museum for practice (perhaps there are pictures of what I call "my field" online). Said field might also be part of White River State Park; in any case, it is 60 feet of grass in every direction, skyline visible north, river visible south. Concrete walkways, public art, architecture, autumnal trees, fantastic, really wonderful, beauty. So good for practice that it's unreal.
Outside practice rocks the earth; maybe because Swenson recommended it, I take it whenever I can, and in public is better for me than in the back yard (also, the back yard is terribly uneven, whereas publicly tended fields and parks tend not to be).
So today, with marvelous energy and lightness before I even rolled out the rug, I went out to my field (hah, MY field, as if it's named for me) and did Primary plus fifteen poses, which is Intermediate from Pasasana through Eka Pada Sirsasana. Occasionally Kapo seems to me to become a roadblock, which is not healthy either for me or for Kapo, and so I run past it, just to make sure that I know that it is "only a position" after all.
I held various poses for 10 breaths, to appreciate their wonder in stretching various parts of the glutes, specifically: Janu A and C, Marichyasana C and D.
Pasasana returned to a bind on both sides, ahhh.
Dhanurasana crept up, as one blogger put it to me long ago, "behind the heart," which was spooky but also pleasant to feel. Parsva Dhanurasana remains, as ever, intense in the hip flexors, but also deeply enjoyable. Even after a vinyasa, that pose remains so "loud" in me that it's often hard to tell exactly WHAT Ustrasana is supposed to stretch. I concentrate on thighs rotating in, tailbone under, ribs up, and head back; the backbend recipe.
Tough to come up from Laghu, but successful. Today I tried what I hear is Sharath's approach to teaching Kapo: drop back, straighten arms as much as possible, walk in, straighten, walk in, and so on. I cannot get my arms straight. When I walk them in, I also drop down, nearly to the top of my head. My bodymind's aim in Kapo is to let it GO and find Supta Virasana; the POSE's aim is to go both UP and FORWARD into Kapo. Fear, anxiety, panic. We expect this.
I think I will begin taking more breaths in Kapo; I know from backbending that more breaths is generally a deeper pose. It has to develop somehow, and without a teacher to fold me into it, I have to find a way, so more breaths, at the beginning, will simply be about experimenting with sensation, endurance and various ways of approaching the pose.
The only thing that keeps me from complaining about people who find Kapo easy (and really, how the flying hell is that even humanly POSSIBLE?) is that I find Mayurasana ridiculously simple, and really about nothing other than balance.
So I ran up to Eka Pada: the bound lotus backbend after Kapo is VERY hard to do solo. The twists which follow, however, are totally delicious; very glutes-oriented, and so, SO good.
Eka Pada itself has retreated some, as it will with my not doing it, but I was able to park the left leg behind the shoulder, which really took some pressure off the neck. I held the upright position for 5 breaths, then the fold for 5 breaths, and then exited, losing the LBH in both exits. But all in all, a fine pose. Much easier than Kapo.
Five wheels, with some slight walking in of hands, and then three big, intense hangs back, hands by hips, urging the hip flexors to release, the tailbone to drop, and the hang to increase. Ten breaths per hang back.
Classical closing, with 25 breaths in each inversion and a Siddhasana after coming up from rest.
Have you seen the acceptance speech? All of the parallelisms, the cadence, the references to the age-old documents of famous American speeches? The total and overt refusal of partisanship and the so-Bush politics of divisiveness?
Did you feel a sort of odd, irresistible "promise" from all of this? I don't mean simply an emotional spell cast by the closing repetition of "Yes We Can."
Tom Wolfe (yes, THAT Tom Wolfe, author of the Tangerine Flake Baby and such) in 1994 spoke at Bloomington about America, and he said that he was going to take a Nietzschean line on whether or not America would "make it" as a nation, and he found that the nation is capable of a sort of regeneration, that it never QUITE settles into one mode, and thus can reinvent itself from any circumstances.
It's that same animal. I feel a strange opening between my private and public lives, with this election, not because we've broken any race barrier or because the Democrats took so many seats or any of that, but because in a way we have elected an official who is NOT playing Nixon's post-sixties reactionary culture war.
This culture war, the one that is still running anti-gay-marriage and abortion rights and social conservatism and all of that anti-reason ugliness as well as political correctness and that whole game? This is largely Nixon's doing (yes, I copped that from SICKO, but I trust Moore on this one point).
To have a politician NOT in any way shape or form, address the politics of culture war (which are the Bush politics EXTRAORDINAIRE) ONLY in terms of unity and in fact in terms of "America," the nation defined by a fluid democracy, and to have such an official talk about America in terms which include "humility," is mindbending stuff.
Obama is, and always has been, even when I was aware of him just as a Senator, had a very diplomatic, highly educated, well-reasoned public speaking presence. I first voted in 1988, and I've not, before, in 20 years, seen the US elect, on a certain level, such "intelligence." I don't mean rationality or some kind of anti-faith platform, I simply mean an intelligence not couched in "MY party, THEIR party," not disguised necessarily in terms of us and them.
I DON'T want my political leaders to "be like me"; I think that whole idea is totally bankrupt and self-deceiving. I want my leaders to be superior to me, better than I am at policy. On a certain level, I WANT a type of elitism, because if I thought I could run for President or be good at it, hell, I'd run myself.
There is a feeling of not just co-operation, but of downright healing, in the air. The Bush presidency, according to MANY people I've talked to, has been like living in an emotional war zone. A lot of people are crying today just spotaneously, from the release, the catharsis.
My own emotional stance for the last eight years has been something like that of the Heisman Trophy. See a link. Charging hard. In 2004 I covered my car with political stickers, out of outrage. It was either that or just start attacking people at random in the street and beating them senseless.
I feel, and for the past couple days, have felt, rage turning down in me, the levels lowering. While I still, for example, find the Proposition 8 business in California to be the new definition of narrow-minded fear-driven idiocy of the worst possible kind, I'm not angry about it, but simply sort of sighingly bored. Yes, let the social conservatives quiver in their fear and spend their money instituting policy which governs other people's rights in a way that doesn't affect those social conservatives at all. Sure. Whatever, dude.
In a certain way, social conservatives are fine. Republicans ever since the 1970s have been ramping up the fire under those people, intentionally stoking their fear into a political force. That's playing on the Dark Side and now, it seems, that table has turned.
Enough. Enough fear and ideological terrorism. Enough of Sarah Palin refusing to qualify Eric Rudolph as a terrorist (when he quite clearly is one). Enough paranoia, enough putting the sixties on trial. Enough, Republican party. Enough culture war. Enough damage to the nation. John Stewart called you on it way back in his legendary Tucker Carlson interview (and I went to school, for the record, with Tucker Carlson). "Stop...hurting...America."
So Yes We Can, couched not in Democratic terms, not in partisan terms, but in national terms, AS the national IDENTITY, is powerful magic. NOT let's conquer Europe or let's stomp the (whoever), but simply Tes We Can. Facing economic, social, political negativity, as well as personal negativity.
Two days ago I rolled up into Kukkutasana and locked my gaze on an American flag blowing in the wind and actually felt something. Potential, sort of.
I am reducing, as I'm able, the rage I feel, have felt. Just in case the personal really is political and the door between the two is wide open. The energy shall be good. Never, have I felt anything like this in an election. It's WEIRD. But I like it.