“Writing is harder on my body than running is. I’m relaxed when I run. But when I write, I tend to hunch over my laptop, unconsciously flex certain random muscles, just basically distort my body into cramped, unnatural positions. Lately, I find myself hobbling when I get up from the computer…”
— Scribblings in a notebook from earlier this summer
Underneath the above fragment, written in all caps and underlined, was this admonishment: MUST GET TO YOGA CLASS!
I did, briefly, before deciding to try “30 Days of Yoga” at home instead. Not surprisingly, that didn’t work out as planned. I didn’t get in a full yoga session every day. But I did start incorporating a couple of basic poses into my everyday routine. Weirdly, the primary pose that I now do every single day is the one thing I most detested in class. And that, apparently, is what’s responsible for an amazing turnaround in my flexibility.
It wasn’t just that it hurt my incredibly tight hip flexors to sit cross-legged. I simply could not force my legs into that position. In class, I’d have to sit on a block to get anywhere close. Most of the time, I didn’t even try.
I needed a distraction, and the obvious answer was the very thing that was causing my problem in the first place: My laptop.
Now when I start writing every morning, I sit on the floor with my back against the sofa. I force myself to get in cross-legged, or as close as I can get. It still hurts to do this. But I breathe into the tightness, focus on a particular thing I want to write about, and stay in that position as long as I can. Sometimes if I get really absorbed in my writing I can stay there up to 20 minutes or so.
I can’t really remember when I first realized I was no longer hobbling when I got up from the computer every morning. It was a pretty gradual thing. But the biggest eye opener came over the weekend, when Colleen asked me to go hit some tennis balls with her.
The last time we did this was probably July or August, and I definitely remember feeling like Frankenstein on the court. It’s like my 52-year-old muscles were so used to running in only one direction – straight ahead – that they’d forgotten how to make quick lunges off to the side. I felt like I needed an oil can and maybe some steel wool to knock the rust off.
On Saturday it was like I was a different person, moving around the court and actually having fun rather than just dutifully and painfully humoring my kid. It’s astonishing to me that simply sitting for a few minutes in cross-legged position every morning has made this big of a difference, but there’s no other explanation I can come up with.