Matthew Sanford, right, with Tim Rushby-Smith. Photograph: Frank Baron for the Guardian
I have never tried yoga, so I arrived for a class at Triyoga in Chelsea feeling pretty intimidated. My inner cynic expected sinewy people standing on their heads in a fug of incense, but instead I find a large white room scattered with purple mats, foam bricks, blankets and other participants. I choose a space and sit on a mat on the floor.
When our teacher, Matthew Sanford, arrives he lays a calming hand on my shoulder and in a soft American voice describes me as sporty and determined to the point of bloodymindedness. He recognises this, because I am on the floor with my wheelchair parked next to me – and we are both paraplegic.
Sanford was just 13 when his family's car hit a patch of ice and slid down an embankment. His mother and brother survived, but his father and sister were both killed. Asleep at the time of the accident, he suffered a broken neck and back, among other injuries. He was in a coma for three days.
"I was a very athletic kid, and I loved feeling my whole body," he tells me. "After the accident, doctors told me I didn't have sensation and I believed them. They called the tingling and burning in my legs phantom feeling, in case I took it to mean I would walk again." Actually, as I know myself, the constant "noise" in my legs, which can be anything from an almost pleasant, warm tingling to excruciating pain, may not be functional, but it is certainly real.
Sanford duly followed the traditional approach to rehabilitation: "I learned to make my upper torso really strong to overcome my body. That's a metaphor for everything, because you can't overcome your body."
Then, 12 years after the accident, Sanford was in graduate school studying philosophy when he met a yoga teacher. "We explored what the principles of yoga meant for a mind-body relationship such as mine. I started to feel that [phantom] sensation again, and I thought: 'I belong here. I can't do the poses like everyone else but I can feel the wholeness that is at the core of the poses.' That's the true heart of yoga."
Starting in 1935, Russell Vernon Hunter & Chapman of the Library of Anthropology in Santa Fe set out to develop a portfolio of Navajo blankets spanning 1840-1910- several of their selections can be seen here I found this lovely collection via anambitiousprojectcollapsing.I do love a good collection!
What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something loose-knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful, that comes into my mind. I should like it to resemble some deep old desk or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through. I should like to come back, after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet steady, tranquil compounds with the aloofness of a work of art. The main requisite, I think, on reading my old volumes, is not to play the part of a censor, but to write as the mood comes or of anything whatever; since I was curious to find how I went for things put in haphazard, and found the significance to lie where I never saw it at the time.
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