The Follies of Youth and Ego
What are we trying to accomplish on the Yoga Mat?
It is not the Yoga Asana we want to perfect but the control over our minds and integration of our mind, body and breathe. When you are doing a yoga pose, maybe ask yourself this question, ”Do I have to do an extreme version of this pose to accomplish this goal?” For many of us, the answer is no. I have been participating in a push-up challenge to raise awareness of issues facing our vets and if I had attempted the full push up on my first day of the 22 day challenge, I would never have been able to complete the challenge. Instead I have been building my strength with modified push-ups and guess what, even without doing the extreme pose, I am getting stronger every day. I am toning my arms without injury to myself. And accomplishing a greater goal — not giving up even when facing obstacles such as an injured shoulder and wrist and upper spine scoliosis.
Here is another way to look at this dilemma of doing an extreme pose versus listening to your body. I am a competitive tennis player and have been so since I was 15 years old.
For years, I thought if I hit the ball harder and outran all my opponents, I would win. Sometimes I did, often I did not. As I have aged and faced more and more tennis related injuries from my follies of youth and ego, I have come to realize that my best weapon on the court is control over my mind and body. It is when I integrate breath, mind and body and calmly see the greater picture of the court including the ball, my opponents and my partner, that I experience the Zen of Tennis.
In a recent Yoga Journal article, Yoga teacher Tias Little explained that that most of us need to dial back our movements to 80% and mix in micro-movements with larger movements in order to prevent injury and rehabilitate from injury. “Some somatic therapists suggest it’s the small movements that really open up the whole arena of the nervous system, because the slow and soft and small movements allow the brain to track what’s happening,”she said. The bottom line, according to Little, for all of us who want yoga to be therapeutic, is to track “sensation in each movement and take mental notes”. In other words, we need to become the observer/witness as well as the participant in our own practice. I often tell my students that once they feel safe and understand what the pose looks like, to close their eyes and feel into the pose without the distraction of what others are doing. As in tennis, yoga and life –focus and awareness of your internal landscape first will help you sense the external world around you and interpret in a calmer more authentic way.
To experience my unique approach to Yoga, you can catch me Mondays at Gateway Country Club, Tuesdays at Chicos headquarters, Wednesday at Happehatchee (see website), Thursdays at Fyzical on Metro, Fridays at Happehatchee. I am also available for one on one and small groups at your location. (click here for pricing and details)
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