My classes have a way of, well, testing people.
“Hey guys, this ain’t a funeral. It’s ok to cheer up.”
It’s not like a test that you have to study for, with a bunch of different questions covering a broad range of topics. There is actually only one question: if you can’t stay calm in here, how will you stay calm out there?
“You kids are looking awfully serious…”
What is this mind body mumbo jumbo anyway? Isn’t it like supervised nap time?
Emphatically, no, it is not.
You will not find a time during any of my classes when your mind is free to dwell on something that upset you yesterday or to worry about what might happen tomorrow. We work in the now, the right now, the only time that there is.
Stay with me…
Being present in the moment creates a sense of flow and ease. The path of least resistance is not necessarily the easiest path, on the flattest ground, with the fewest obstacles, it’s the one we travel without trying to grab on to every single thing that enters our consciousness.
Somewhere along the line we’ve mistaken working out for stressing out. Consider this: the way you do one thing is the way you do everything. Do you spend your days stressing out about time, money, your appearance, your social status? Is your #1 concern: Am I good enough? And your #2 concern: how will I get the things that will make me good enough? Let me ask you this: how will you know when you’ve arrived at good enough? Will your biceps be as big as your head? Will you drive a car that can go 3x the legal speed limit? How much energy is allocated to the stress and worry at the expense of the actual doing? Is the quality of the work diminished if you go about it calmly?
With our highly competitive and stress inducing culture, it’s not the least bit surprising that we’ve turned exercise into a competitive and stressful activity. No wonder so many people don’t enjoy it; they’re stressed out at home, they’re stressed out at work and the last thing they want to be is stressed out at the gym.
But is it really the gym that creates the stress?
I’ll be the first to admit that I teach the hardest yoga class I’ve ever been to, and Dynamic Body Sculpt – oh baby, we’re not messin’ around! But here’s the thing, I will not let you sink into that shroud of anxiety that most people wear like an iron mask. I can see it coming on, the way too serious expressions, the shoulders creeping up by the ears, the lack of breathing. As the level of difficulty increases, the body starts to experience stress. The heart rate increases, lactic acid accumulates in the muscles creating the feeling of “burn”, the mind is scrambling to coordinate the limbs and maintain balance. Suddenly we experience a feeling of turbulence and our knee jerk reaction is to hold on, to grab on to something, thinking that the only way to make it through, to survive, is to let our fight or flight reflexes take over and go into stress out mode.
Guess what happens in stress out mode? The workout is harder. You accomplish less and leave the gym with more anxiety than when you arrived.
If you’re trying to take your workout to the next level and are frustrated by a lack of progress, I have three words for you: let it go. When the stress comes, and it will, don’t grab on to it, let it go. Breathe through the moment. Fall out of a pose? That’s alright, don’t get mad. Take inventory of where the tension is accumulating, where the flow of chi is being blocked, and relax. Focus and breathe and try again. When the waves of tension start to rise up, be the screen door and let them pass through you without the need to hold on. Your mind and body will thank you. 🙂