Wednesday, September 8, 2010
I will be the first person to admit that sometimes I try way too hard. When I was in High School I tried ridiculously hard to get people to like me. In relationships, I was eager to please and I think that me trying too hard to be the perfect boyfriend was really the death of those relationships. When I started getting into fitness and body building I tried way too hard to get big arms and a ripped six pack and I would consistently push through major injuries thinking that more effort was the answer. I remember that the bane of my existence, while weight training, was my small Calves. I tried everything under the sun to get them to grow, with little success. When I started practicing Yoga, I would push and strive beyond my edge to achieve the "Perfect" postures. And although my practice looked aesthetically beautiful I was simply a ball of effort and tension.The result of so much effort?? Injury, discomfort, frustration and disdain for my physical body. And when I got injured I would use my old Body Building mentality of "Push through Pain".
When I was in Teacher Training, I learned a very valuable lesson. "Don't try so hard...." and in this practice of Yoga "Less is much more." I have been following the teachings of a Calgary Yogini named Susi Hately for a while now. Her blend of Anatomy, Bio-mechanics, Movement Science and Yogic Philosophy really speak to me. Mostly because I am definitely a self proclaimed Anatomy Geek, but secondly because her teachings are about "Getting out pain" and finding a sense of ease in the body and mind.
At this point in my practice, I am feeling a lot of discomfort and pain in my body. I have an annoying shoulder injury, consistent neck pain and some ongoing knee issues. Within the last year or so the reality of practice is becoming quite clear. Is more effort really the answer to my problem?? The progression of my Yoga and Meditation practice are now much more based in the realm of Exploration and Ease. And even though I am primarily a Vinyasa Yoga teacher I am doing no Vinyasas on my mat and am staying away from a lot of classic poses like Adho Mukha Svanasana because I feel that this and some other poses keep reinforcing the pain and discomfort that my body is trying to move away from. It just seems counter intuitive.
My biggest realization is something that I've heard other Yogis say a million times.... Yoga is not about the poses!! I always find myself quoting Sarah Powers in class. She says "We don't use our bodies to get into these poses. We use these poses to get into our bodies." This really resonates with me. I have come to terms with the fact that my body doesn't enjoy or benefit from the practice that I was used to doing. I am learning to modify, to simplify and to adapt my Asana practice based on what I think my body is asking for. And the biggest concept that I'm wrapping my "No Pain No Gain" mindset around is that practicing in pain is just re-enforcing more pain and not healing or ease. Even my meditation practice is much more exploratory. I am much less concerned with the final goal, as I used to be. I am curious about the process. When I step onto my mat, it's no longer about, "How many calories am I burning?" or "How does my Chaturanga look?" My practice has become about unraveling the tension in my body and mind. It's evolved into, "How can I develop a functional body and mind?" or "How does my Chatruanga feel?" It's become about being healthy. About finding "True" strength, flexibility and balance while staying out of pain. It's become about re-enforcing healing, compassion and rediscovering my bodies intuitive wisdom.
I have also recently married to my soul mate Adele. This philosophy of ease, fluidity and exploration, I think, are 3 major components to a successful marriage. I love married life!!
I love you Adele:)
If anyone is actually reading this, I can't stress enough that this life and practices of Yoga and Meditation are not about the superficial qualities that most of us associate with them. It's not about grasping at the "Perfect Pose" or "Achieving Enlightenment" or "Living the Perfect Life".
It's about going with the flow... about reconnecting with your innate sense of wisdom... It's about having fun, breathing, exploring, being open and loving. These are the keys to finding Ease in this lifetime and in the next!
This post is dedicated to my beautiful wife and to this journey of love and exploration that we are both on together.