Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Relating it all to flying

Once again paragliding season is pretty much over. Short little flights are still to be had of course, just enough airtime between take-off and landing to look around at the leaves changing colour and get a good whiff of that crisp fall air. So it's time to bring back those old pursuits that got pushed aside in the spring & summer, waiting patiently for the thermals to end and for me to come back down to earth.

Two fun things that I've thrown myself back into on these rainy, windy days are martial arts & yoga. They're a good compliment to each other...and paragliding too. I find myself relating all 3 of these disciplines lately, either when trying to stretch into a new yoga pose or land my first handspring. Handspring? Yes, I chose a branch of martial arts that includes gymnastics! We do something different each class - perfect for those of us with short attention spans. So we either learn patterns (like in karate), sparring, weapons (nun-chucks baby!) or my favourite...demonstration day. That's when we practice things like breaking boards, running up the walls and yes, gymnastics.

Back to the point I was getting at (did I mention my short attention span?) the other day we were attempting front handsprings. Now...the only thing I've been able to accomplish tumbling wise thus far in life is a half-decent cartwheel. So it was thrilling when I came oh-so-close last class to 'springing' right over! My instructor said I needed more strength in my shoulders, which is funny because I noticed that when I started flying tandems. Then at yoga during our spinal exercises (which I've struggled with too) I realized that the more I could bend my back, the easier I could land that handspring. Suddenly I found myself just that much stronger. When doing jumping kicks I could see how the added flexibility would benefit me at yoga, and back at yoga when my arms were burning from holding them forever in front of me, my thinking changed to how this was strengthening my shoulders for both handsprings and flying! I've come to appreciate this lovely circle that keeps me going in challenging times.

When I started both classes last year I figured they'd be a good distraction until I could go on a paragliding trip somewhere or make it through until spring. They've given me a lot more than that! The first theme I noticed woven through all these activities was meditation. I thought it was cool that meditating & visualizing were brought up so often in yoga & martial arts when I would often describe flying as meditative. Doing handstands made me think of acro flying and of looking at the world from a different angle, whether that be upside down on a gym mat or swinging overtop your glider on a wingover. While some things were obvious connections, the little things have been popping up and bringing a lot more satisfaction to my non-flying days. Setting & accomplishing new goals in class helps me gain more confidence, which will (hopefully) help when spring thermals start ripping through the sky. And if I end up upside down on some wicked acro trick someday then the world won't look quite so unfamiliar from that point of view anymore.

Thursday, October 21, 2010