Elizabeth Boleman-Herring: Looking Ridiculous, Giggling and Flailing on the Yoga Mat

Posted: June 1, 2012 at 5:21 am


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In or around -- who knows, for certain -- the winter of 2008, my lumbar spine separated between L4 and L5... and I went right on practicing level III/IV Iyengar yoga, and teaching, through significant pain, til even I, who had spent over half a lifetime on the mat, had to admit something serious might be wrong with my back.

Spinal fusion surgery and a year of recovery later, I returned to my daily Iyengar yoga practice. But, only now, some three years after surgery, will I return to teaching... beginners.

I could look at this as a ghastly and cascading visitation of setbacks. After all (and those of you who've read me before can attest to this fact), I am a card-carrying pessimist and doomsayer but, astonishingly, when it comes to yoga, I seem to inhabit another's skin, another's more optimistic and more reasoned sensibility, entirely.

In yoga, I tend to just go with the flow. And, many, many times, the flow in life is dammed, diverted, dries the hell up, slows to an almost invisible trickle... and you, with it.

In matters of the heart, finance, armed conflict and whoever's currently in the seats of power, I vacillate, suffer, howl and sink. On the yoga mat, however, I take what comes, even when nothing comes, even when what comes is pretty laughable... or damned unbearable.

I am two things, this-incarnation-around, a writer and a yogini, and I understand the underpinnings of only two things fairly well, writing and yoga.

Doesn't mean I'm a master or an adept, in either field. Just means I have some understanding in and of each, and that suffices.

Iyengar yogini Inez Baranay, author of Sun Square Moon: Writings on Yoga and Writing, says it well:

I do my best writing with the eraser-end of the pencil. I achieve my best asana, my most perfected yoga positions; after much tomfoolery and tinkering.

In the photo accompanying this column, you see me on a Greek rooftop, clowning around with my best friend, photographer Doris Athanassakis (always invisible behind her camera). I'm trying to get my body into Karnapidasana, a pose that comes -- sorry: used to come -- as naturally to me as breathing.

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Elizabeth Boleman-Herring: Looking Ridiculous, Giggling and Flailing on the Yoga Mat

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Written by simmons |

June 1st, 2012 at 5:21 am

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