Saturday, May 8, 2010

From Liz: Right Foot, Left Foot.

My parents are practicing Christians. But the religious ritual that has been most deeply etched into my neural pathways is the practice of cardio. Specifically, running. My father has run every day of the year, with a few exceptions, for the past 30 odd years. (The day after he had fairly invasive surgery to remove a skin cancer, my mother had to chase him down with her car to get him to come home, as he staggered up the street, trying to get "just a quick run in.") My siblings and I have practiced with varying levels of devotion throughout our adult lives. But my dad gets up at the crack of dawn (4:30-ish) every single day, pulls on running shoes and faces the weather, the dawn, his own groggy consciousness, and once a rabid dog. (Which, of course, ended with a course of rabies shots.) Surprisingly few of his injuries are related to the actual sport. He has had many scrapes and bruises, but mostly from spacing out and eating pavement. So mindfulness is the name of the game once you reach his level. Keep vigilant, once you are athletically capable.

I run too. I try to keep it to a bare few days a week, for fear of compromising my yoga practice. But it's in me, that need to just get out there are run my brains out. My practice has illuminated my running, clued me in to the way that I can moderate and modulate around the breath, pace myself to pull through to the end. My body aligns more naturally than it used to. His body has figured all of this out after years, without too much analysis. His really is a habit of, "one percent theory, 99 percent practice." After a while, these things simply go without saying. Right foot, left foot... that's all there really is to it.

My dad has a book on his shelf called "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner." That's it in a nutshell, isn't it? Ashtanga yoga, and running. Ultimately, solitary practices. You might "share your breath" if you practice in a Mysore room. But you are really alone on your mat. Maybe this is why they both suit me so well, I'm comfortable here, alone in this space.

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