(cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 1983, all rights reserved)
(to enlarge click on image)
I've been playing around with the yoga ropes which prompted me to post this cartoon. I feel very at home being upside down and maybe this is the reason why...
The family room at 139 was the place where we all hung out. Since there was usually multiple activities going on at once in this room it was also the place where I learned to shut out everything going on around me and concentrate. It was also where I did my yoga practice, but, when I was 12 it was where I practiced gymnastics and where my younger brother, Nor, and I invented leg wrestling.
* * *
It is the much simpler time of my youth. In my memory, two children's figures appear. They are in their parents' family room, in headstand, side by side, facing opposite directions. Each entwines the leg nearest the other's. They pull and tug at the other's leg.
Their mother, watching from the vantage point of her favourite chair, winces in fear of seeing bones broken, and must return her attention to the newspaper in her hands.
"It's good for them," the father says, passing off all thought of possible harm; after all, children are resilient beings. He returns his attention to the TV just out of range of the combatants.
Finally, there is the dull thump of a roll well executed, followed by children's laughs of delight which threaten to topple the victorious figure remaining in headstand. The challenger returns to headstand in a brief, effortless move and the game begins again and again.
* * *
The cartoon and a version of that story were originally published in the Yoga Centre of Victoria Newsletter (I don't have the issue date, but it would have been in 1983) after my participation in a workshop led by Aadil Palkhivala. In the workshop we performed yoga asanas while standing on blocks. Later this evolved into walking a course of blocks set on their sides and ends placed at varying distances and angles, spanning the width of the room. Although this was hard work, devised to explore the nature of balance, it was also fun for the former gymnast in me.
As I wrote further on in the article:
* * *
"This (working on the blocks) sensitized our feet -- the foundation -- revealed our centre to be around the area of the hara (a little lower for women than men) and demanded that we draw attention away from the front brain, bringing it more to the root of balance located between the ears, producing a feeling of calm...Physical balance seems to be situated in, and released, through the core of our being, and true enough, when we are emotionally and mentally balanced, we say we are 'centred'.
As I walked the blocks I felt as a child, and as I watched the others walk I saw the child contained within each. Now, remembering the workshop, I recall the balancing game of leg wrestling invented by my brother Nor and I.
Being mature adults, Nor and I no longer leg wrestle. It is no longer my brother "pulling my leg" to get me off balance, but my approach to life, its circumstances and my own seriousness about myself."