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Learn More About Going into the Dark.

Of Limitations, Yoga, and Death: Ash Wednesday

Of Limitations, Yoga, and Death: Ash Wednesday

Ah, the beauty of the movement of the body! The glory of muscles stretching, limbs pulling and pushing, bending and lifting! The rhythms of breathing, running, bicycling, rolling, climbing, jumping, dancing…the innumerable ways we can attend to joyful movement. So many!

But then, sometimes, OUCH!

I am a bit laid up this week, as it turns out.

Some back story—

Last year around this time, I received word that I had pulmonary emboli. Scary! Everyone immediately thought, “Oh my God! She’s going to have a stroke!” And I was right there with them. As it turned out, the kind I had are unlikely to cause stroke, given that my heart is healthy and I have no other cardiopulmonary pathology.

As a result of the emboli and other less emergent issues, I was terribly, terribly out of breath all winter. And spring. And summer.

It’s only in the last couple of months that the fatigue from the experience has begun to give way to energy and joy. And so my doctor and I decided that I would go back to yoga—my favorite form of movement and body engagement—once the fatigue really lifted. She admonished me not to let myself get too out of breath and to be as gentle as I could once I went back.

I started doing yoga this week. (yay!)

I went back to class yesterday. (yay!)

I had a wonderful time. I did poses and series to the degree that felt good. And maybe just a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiittle past where they felt good, at least in the case of a few poses.

Those poses all had something in common. They were wide-legged poses, either standing up, or with my legs up the wall.

As I left the studio, I thought, hm, my left leg doesn’t feel too happy.

I was stiff and a little off-center last night.

But today? Today, my friends, those chickens have come home to roost. I have fire in my leg. (Different from the classic “fire in the belly,” for sure!) Getting up and down is not fun. Walking is okay, but I’m aware at every moment that asked more of my body than its ready to give.

I’m not sure what the spiritual lessons are from this yet. I need to wait and see. I know they’re there, though.

Sure, there’s my own mantra – gentle, gentle, gentle, even with discipline, always the gentleness. There’s questions of comparison – was I comparing myself to my former self of two autumns ago, who was in yoga four times a week? Perhaps.

And there’s the interesting point that it’s Ash Wednesday. (see my blog post on Patheos, if you’re interested )

Ash Wednesday is, among other things, a reminder that we will all die. For me, a reminder of the cycle of things – gestation, living, dying, decaying, redistribution, and rebirth. By considering mortality, those who celebrate the holiday have the opportunity to consider limits.

Limits are our reminders that none of us is “perfectly whole,” whatever that means.

I am a better musician than I am a mathematician. I am fat and not slender. I am quick of thought and slow of foot. I have lots – indeed limitless! – limitations. And so you do.

No matter how much we push, no matter how much we seek evolution and positive change, we will always have limits.

There is a way in which much of life past a certain age is a closing aperture. I will never be an engineer, though I may eventually teach myself calculus. I have no desire to be thin, though I am slowly working towards becoming fit. Limits are everywhere.

Not all of them are in pairs, either, eh? We will all die. We are all moving towards death. And while yes, my tradition maintains that life continues even when the living of a given entity ends, we are all going to die.

We are all limited beings. Remember, you are (star)dust….and unto (star)dust you will return. There is no escaping it. Limits are.

And boy howdy, am I considering limits today.

So perhaps I, former Roman Catholic, Unitarian Universalist, witchy femme that I am, am entering into the spirit of the day. Just a thought.

Blessings on you and on your house ~~ Catharine~~

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