You might often see classes labeled as ‘yoga for strength’ or ‘yoga for flexibility’ or ‘yoga for back pain’ etc. As much as teachers like to put a specific label on the classes, essentially what it comes down to is finding a way to breathe, move and engage with the yoga poses (and indeed with life) from a place of effortless effort. Where we find strength in moving with ease.
Sounds like a paradox huh?
It is. The less we force and muscle on through our practice, the stronger we become.
The less we pretend about our capabilities (picture that person on the yoga mat next to you trying to shove their head to their leg in their first class), the more we courageous we become (in being vulnerable, we strengthen).
The less we try to make the pose pretty or contort ourselves into someone else’s version of the pose, the more energy we have to create what feels good for us. We feel lighter and freer; we step into our flow. I see all of the above in yoga class. I see it in family life, and I see it in the workplace (speaking from 12 years in PR across both private and public sector).
When we don’t honour our innate strengths and shy away from moving in ways that feel good and in flow for us (where time just disappears), we have to use more effort than is necessary, leaving nothing left for all the good stuff in life. We huff and puff and eat up so much energy trying to ‘manage the pose’ or manage our work schedule, or manage our week that we become spent and depleted. We can sometimes quite literally contract ourselves out of conscious awareness (think mindfulness – where all the best things happen)… and that’s when we numb out, we distract ourselves with unhelpful time-sucks (social media or gossiping about a colleague to name a few), we go on autopilot, we become reactive. We’re much less like ourselves. We think “if I just make it through this, or achieve that target, then all will be fine,” and before you know it the year has disappeared in a sea of blahness.
Blahness (yes, that’s a technical term) is definitely not where all the best ideas come from. It’s certainly not the fertile soil for creative endeavours. And it’s unfortunately not where you’re going to find satisfaction and fulfillment.
So what’s the money shot then? Flow. Specifically, moving or working in a state of flow where there’s no clock watching, where you’re so immersed in the process that you forget about the end game, the erratic part of your brain goes quiet, and you turn away from the external goings on in the world for a moment. Where you’re connected to flashes of insight and supported by a joyful presence. And the cool thing is it’s available anytime, anywhere, for free. You don’t need fancy Lululemon pants, you don’t even need to go to yoga class. But you do need to consider what comes naturally to you, and move with that.
Consider where you could let go overly managing or over efforting in favour of removing resistance and moving with ease. Find your slipstream and support mechanisms – in yoga, it’s not the obvious muscles – it’s our bones and organs that give us the most support.
Consider what activities light you up and find more ways to bring them into your day – I call them acts of devotion. Those moments where you feel so present, so alive, that nothing gets in the way of you being you.
Uncover what you’d do, even if there were no rewards at the end of it – and if there’s not room to add that into your current day, how could you reframe it so it’s possible in a different way?
There will still be things we don’t want to do. There will still be crazy challenges. We can’t control what’s thrown at us, and the outcome will always be uncertain. But we do have creative license as to how we show up, how we honour ourselves and strengthen our discernment, how we flow. It’s my hope for every yogi to find that skill, it’s my hope for you too.
You can find more on Adele’s views on life, and free yoga practices for being at ease and in flow at www.thewowbeingweekly.com.