Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A New Experience in Yoga: Floating

I think I approach this project differently than Patrick did/does. I remember a particularly vivid conversation I had with Patrick about some extreme stretching he was doing that had him in tears. I told him I thought he was crazy to do it. He told me he was "releasing" pent up energy. I told him that if it needed to be released he could do so without pushing himself past his boundaries. We fought.

I still maintain that your body knows its limits. I don't think that's an excuse to stay well within the limits. It is our work as body nerds to get to know what they are - to explore those edges. If a stretch has you in tears, back off. It isn't worth it.

Another piece to this project is that I haven't been gung ho, trying to convert everyone I know to do the program. I realize people will find it when the time is right for them. I've had a number of folks shoot me emails or direct messages on Twitter asking about how they can get started - I would point you to Patrick and get him to set you up.

Yesterday in yoga I experienced a lightness in my upper body that had my teacher, after class, high fiving me saying, "well, now I know it's not all just for show!" referring to my upper body strength. Jumping to chatturanga from crow is still challening, but I feel the "floating" element that I never did before. I honestly thought it was a myth. There is a lot I still can't do: I can't float up into a handstand from standing forward bend, for instance. But I'm not focused on what I can't do, I'm focused on what I can.

The photo sequence shows a posture I've been able to incorporate into my practice since I started the peak condition project. I could do it before, but it felt heavy or flat. Now, it feels weightless. And pleasurable, actually. In one shot you can see the emerging six-pack (w00t!)

I remember attending a workshop with David Swenson in Tokyo (pictured above). It was called the Physics of Flight. We practiced jumping through our Sun Series and held one another to practice jumping through straight-legged, hinging at the hips. I laughed at the time. I thought David was kind of a show off. I don't want this to be taken that way. I see now that he was (probably/hopefully) just trying to inspire us to discover weightlessness in our practice. It is possible, I now see.

Floating is fun, but possibly the most important things I've learned over the past 60+ days doing this is are food related. I've learned that I can (and should) leave the sugar alone, caffeine is almost as bad, chocolate is much better when you hold off from having it for a while, and it's better to just do it than to talk about it. Seriously. Nobody cares how much you work out. The results matter more than the plan to do it. Or the post about having done it. The only reason I'm writing this post is that if I don't Patrick will be mad at me if I don't. So, there you have it. Peak Condition. Final month. Let's rock this shizzle.

(To see how to practice this, step-by-step, check it.)


  1. I'm proud of you, Gwendolyn. You've been doing amazing! It was awesome to see you find that flight in your practice last night! Rock it!

  2. Really amazing and impressive. Seriously, god for you. I think one thing to remember is to stop when it hurts, but I have a knee injury that I exacerbated by not stopping when it hurts because I DO like to push myself. Thankfully, I have a trainer to help me out. If feels awesome to do more than you did last week.

  3. The float you describe is comfortably holding your center of gravity over your hands and moving back at a time of your choosing. It requires upper body strength and a deep awareness of where your center is. I'm so happy you're feeling it!

    I know you don't like blogging your PCP Gwendolyn but you gotta admit it feels good when you get a post out, and you inspire so many people!

    I'll keep pestering you as long as you keep giving me lip, so I guess we'll still be doing this when we're 70.

    Nice work!

  4. Joel: You are a rock through all of this. Thank you for always supporting me, even when you catch me that one time (only!) sneaking bites of banana bread. Which is like mostly bananas and not _that_ much sugar, ok?

    Jen: Keep rocking it, girl!

    Patrick: We will be older than 70 doing this. And yeah, yeah, inspiration. Blah blah. I'd rather just live it, yo!

  5. I do want to try this. :-)

  6. Gwen thanks for bringing up the topic of FOOD and how important it is. Your food is everything! Your food drives how you will think, feel, act, look, be. You think differently when you eat a twinkie vs an apple. You don't look the same when you are eating dairy vs not eating dairy. You can work out and do yoga all you want but if you are out eating sugar, sugar, and more sugar then forget it!

    That all said, why oh why aren't gummi bears good for you? :)