Counting Crows

A decade or more ago, my teenage kids played a lot of Counting Crows and when I could understand the lyrics (yes, I have trouble with that) I got into a lot of the songs. One, “Nothing but a Child” was a favorite, mainly for this first line,
“Nothing but a Child Glass upon me walking on the ocean
Sun upon me walking on a wave ”

(PS That is NOT me in the photo below!)
Back then it had to have been about 30 years since I’d surfed and quite a few years before SUP became along. But, ocean people (you know who you are) find the sounds and images of the sea resonate and attract. What could be better than walking on the ocean?
Over the past 3 months as summer blew into fall and darker wintry days, I re-connected with my yoga practice. Hot Bikram and some ventures to another studio, “Groove Yoga.”  Over the past year I have been meandering at various goals because, to me, this is a very unique year.  On June 2 (6/2) I turned 62. How cool is that!

All summer I had noticed people enjoying yoga on their SUP boards, in the river and in the ocean. Triangle, Warrior, Headstands and hand stands – and that seemed incredible, strong, balanced and wonderful.  So returning to yoga this Fall I had some goals.  Last night – I gave up those goals. Not in a negative way, but in a manner full of new awareness.

I want to do a head stand on my SUP board – friends, family and ElderSUP readers have been hearing that message. Last night in a packed room at Groove Yoga in a class led by Gerry Lopez I finally heard what I should have already known. In a calm voice that guided our practice, one of the first things Gerry mentioned was that the goal is not the pose.  It is our intent and willingness to listen to our own body and relax, with strength, into what our body can do right now that matters.

How many times have I heard something similar – but for some reason, with my focus on “getting to a head stand” I had forgotten.  During the class breathing, relaxing, focusing, awareness and intent guided my practice. At the same time I continued to mull over the new awareness that the “practice” is everything.  So it went throughout the class. Then as we were winding down Gerry announced that it was time for practicing inversions. Most of the class seemed to immediately hop into a head stand  and handstand, some needed a small tutorial from Gerry or others helping in the class.

I place my hands and head on the floor – oops, a minute later I was sitting up. Whew! That was difficult. Everyone else still inverted, so I gave it another try.  I heard a voice say, “press into the floor, engage your core.” Oh, OK, I thought. Arghhhhh!

I was up and sitting again. “How can you say that doesn’t take strength?” I implored. Several people nearby gave knowing smiles (from their upside-down vantage point).

By then I had attracted the attention of both instructors and Gerry.  With a calm series of guiding instructions I was back into an equilateral triangle made up of my two hands and head on the mat. Listening and working toward pressing into the floor, using my forearms and engaging my core I was sweating and muscles trembled (apparently i was working too hard at it).

“Let go, walk your toes toward your hands and lift your toes off the floor. Knee onto your elbow.”  I gave it a try. Collapse. Again – and one, then the other toe lifted off the floor and for two milli-seconds I was in Crow posture.

And for a milli-second I got how it was supposed to feel.  Now I cannot wait to practice that again – and again. Not for the eventual headstand, but for the awareness of “I am at this stage now but I can move to the next stage.”

What does this have to do with an Elder SUP article? Knowing the self  as a being rather than merely as an athlete or surfer or paddler or racer, is a genuine kind of knowledge.  That sort of knowledge usually gets lost in the rush of activities and push of goals. The value of discovering one’s self and of enjoying one’s self as it is, rather than as it is going to be, is a treasure. Have you had an experience similar to this? Comments or e-mail, we love to hear your story.  Join us on Facebook. for short comments and links to your stories.