a kettlebell training log, and
a launch pad for aberrant missives

Monday, April 14, 2008

Freedom Torch (Swing) Relay

om mani padme hum

I dedicate my yoga and kettlebell practice today to the people of Tibet. As human beings existing in a dualistic universe, we are at once the oppressor and the oppressed. We can be truly enlightened, but so can we be the self-righteous, moralistic, holier-than-thou evangelist for whatever pet causes the ego happens to latch upon. I truly believe that to change the world we have to change ourselves first, and it's a blessing to even know what needs changing. Yoga helps to bring about that meditative awareness that is the essential first step to transformation. Yoga is spiritual discipline. I don't do it as a workout to burn calories, to sweat, or even to stretch. Yoga is the gift of quietude, the stilling of the mind so that breath and suffering and joy can come to the fore, and so remind us of our aliveness, and our humanity.

The Olympic Torch has come and gone, mobilizing thousands in this protest capital of the world, San Francisco. I stand in solidarity with the human rights activists who descended upon London, Paris, and my home city to make it plenty clear to the Beijing government that we will not stand for China's many objectionable policies with respect to Tibet, Darfur, the environment, food safety, etc. I say this as a Chinese-American, knowing full well that many like-minded individuals have been vehemently condemned as "traitors" in recent weeks by pro-Beijing elements in our community. Try as I might, I cannot with good conscience support a government that labels the Dalai Lama as "anti-human rights," shamelessly suppresses freedom of the press, and puts up a joke of a website about the Olympic Torch relay. My allegiance is to my own (fallible) sense of right and wrong, and I believe that the only way to change the hearts and minds of the Chinese people is for them to come to their own conclusions, based on objective information not manipulated by their government. One of my goals in writing this post is to reach the foreigners living and working in China. I think they can be a powerful force in bringing awareness, through their day-to-day interactions with the Chinese people, of the egregious human rights violations that Beijing commits in the name of law and order, and how such heavy-handed tactics only serve to sabotage its international image no matter how fancy or spectacular the Beijing Olympics turns out to be. Change can only come from within, so I call upon the expatriates participating in China's unbridled economic growth to insist on not only spreading Western technological and management know-how, but also the values that we hold dear - freedom of expression, and the right to self-determination. These values are neither Eastern nor Western - they are universal, the foundation of civilization's collective rights and responsibilities. I believe in the power of intention - whether it's my yoga practice, or a protester's non-violent demonstration against injustice, or a journalist's struggle to supplant propaganda with truth, the intent is not to prove that we're right, but to realize that we are all in this together.

April 13, 2008

I first got the idea of staging my own Freedom Torch workout after reading about torch swings on Rif's blog. He did them with clubbells and he made a how-to video for me. Since I don't have clubbells, I did bottoms-up snatches (first time!) - the two exercises are similar in terms of ROM and mechanics.

I used a lighter kettlebell - it was not particularly strenuous, but my forearms were sore for three days! Some pointers: (i) use chalk, (ii) keep your eyes on the ball, and (iii) stay really tight through the lats.

Sun Salutations
108 rounds

Bottoms-Up Snatches (8 kg)
9 x (12 + 12), 2-minute rounds = 108 snatches per arm

MP Ladders (8 kg + 2.5 lb. plate = 20.5 lb.)
5 x (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)


Anonymous said...

The torch press a metaphor inspires me to have at it again this week. Thanks for deepening my ritual.

Cecilia Tom said...

I write to give voice to the meaning that we all seek in our lives, in our myriad activities. I am glad that this piece strikes a chord with you - it's always nice to find a kindred spirit in the blogosphere. Take care, Chip!