Breakdancing & Ashtanga (what you learn when you’re not good at things)

So I was practicing my breakdancing moves in my living room, trying really hard to not kick my dog in the head and making a lot of weird noises, when I thought “man. I am really not good at this. Not at all. Not even a little bit.” But I didn’t feel discouraged. I just said “meh” and kept working. How often do we do things we’re not good at? For me, it’s been a while. When I learned how to snowboard, I was good at it right away (epic yoga balance and stability crossed with a background in figure skating). That was the last actually new thing I tried.

It’s the same for me with Ashtanga Primary Series. After 8 years of practicing yoga, I’m still not flexible. That’s okay, that’s my body, and it’s for a combination of reasons (1. my body is not naturally flexible, it never has been, even when I was a figure skating pre-teen (ooh double parentheses: my physical therapists used to make fun of me for my lack of flexibility. While they were helping me recover from injuries. Assholes) 2. I ride bikes for hours every day, not to mention running. My daily life makes my hips and hamstrings even tighter). The binds and forward folds in primary series kill me. I’ve been practicing for what, weeks now? And I’m no closer to kurmasana.

Yep.  That's still what it looks like.  Awkward facial expression and all.

Yep. That’s still what it looks like. Awkward facial expression and all.

Initially, regarding breakdancing and ashtanga I thought MAN, I am TERRIBLE at this, but it will get better if I keep working on it. But guess what? I’m really not getting better at any of it. And I don’t care at all. Practice for the privilege of practice, and not for the end result. It feels good and weird and hard and I like it, and I’m going to keep doing all of it. And one of these days, I’m going to videotape my breakdancing practice, because everybody deserves a good hard laugh once in a while.

Week 1: Breakdancing (is fun)

So as much as I knew this was going to be funny, I did not film my first day of learning how to breakdance. In my apartment, watching youtube videos. Because I’m definitely not confident enough to go to a class. Yet.

There are really a decent amount of learn-to-breakdance videos on the internet, I found this guy Vincani (http://www.youtube.com/user/VincaniTV) that I liked the most. Very clear playlists for different levels that go step by step, clear instruction. I did have to go back and watch his breakdowns over and over. Aside from a million beginner, intermediate, and advanced breakdance instruction videos, there’s also other forms of dance, martial arts, beat boxing, and other tutorials. You know, for when I’m basically a professional breakdancer and it’s time to learn more things.

I wrote down some of what I said out loud (in my one bedroom apartment by myself):
“but wait-”
“what?! how is he staying in one place!?”
*sustained, pitiful laughter*
“oh wow…bandhas”

By the third video, I’ve decided Vincani and I are friends and I’ve begun addressing him directly:
“oh really, Vincani, just like that”
“can you do it slow again?”
“where is your left foot!?!”
“it’s not that easy, man”

I asked the internet about breakdancing. It originated in 1970’s NYC. Pioneers site James Brown and Bruce Lee movies as sources of inspiration…it’s very clear that there are also gymnastic elements, and I’ve been able to see obvious elements of yoga in some of the moves where they hold (don’t worry, I’ll eventually do a post on this specifically). Oh- and people who breakdance apparently don’t call it breakdancing. It’s bboying or breaking. The internet is clear about this.

“B-boy… that’s what it is, that’s why when the public changed it to ‘break-dancing’ they were just giving a professional name to it, but b-boy was the original name for it and whoever wants to keep it real would keep calling it b-boy.” -Santiago “Jo Jo” Torres

santiago

There are four basic moves: toprock, downrock, power moves, and freezes. So basically, I can do two moves (I’m not implying I can do them “well”) called “6-step” and “CC”. Quite unsure, but those two must be toprock or downrock because I definitely wouldn’t say my beginner footwork is a power move.

I think it speaks to how “cool” I am (not) that my breaking research started on Wikipedia, and ended up listening to an episode of All Things Considered on NPR’s website, “The Return of Breakdancing” (this title shows how uncool NPR is, too). You can find it here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1144040

While it is physically demanding, I think that, like yoga, it’s really accessible. I learned the moves quickly even though I’m highly uncoordinated…it will just take a lot of practice for me to get faster and cleaner!

If you’d like to follow along, here’s the videos I learned today:

Updates:
drinking more water? yes!
FIRST TRAIL RACE OF THE SEASON: THIS SATURDAY 5/4 Greenland 8 mile. I was unsure if I’m ready to race yet after a snowboarding injury kept me off training for several weeks…but here we go!
*Almost* done with Slaughterhouse Five to meet my one book a week goal. Also going to tackle Walden this week.
This week or next: first sewing project, BOLSTER for restorative yoga in my own house!!
Biked 80 miles over the week commuting. Just need to get out on a day trip to get consecutive miles in.
Must improve getting up ten minutes early to do yoga in the morning before I leave to bike to class…this didn’t even happen once.