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    I Hate Yoga

           I hate yoga. It’s uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. Which is exactly why I’m doing more of it.
           It can be difficult, sometimes, to know the difference between doing something we don’t like because it’s good for us (like in this case, yoga), and doing something we don’t like because it’s bad for us (like driving sixteen-penny nails through our eyeballs). When do we just suck it up, and when is sucking it up just getting us in more trouble? That’s not always clear. But some things are becoming more vivid as I draw parallels between my fledgling yoga practice and the rest of my life.
           First and foremost, I have to show up. For yoga and for life. That means I get my ass into the game, even if that sometimes means just hopping out of bed, or showing up for a class. Whether I want to or not. And sometimes, I don’t. Not so much in life, but certainly for yoga. And, although such days are very few and far between, even getting out of bed some days wouldn’t be my first choice. And I’m not talking about those days when I wake up next to a beautiful woman and all I want to do is explore the Karma Sutra. I’m talking about the rare “I just don’t want to get up” days, when just showing up at all is a victory.
           But showing up is rudimentary. Now it’s time to actually do stuff. Yoga has shown me just how resistant I can be. My body fights the poses. Part of this is because I’m physically tight. As in “not flexible”. My body is used to resistance. My workout history is primarily weight training, which is all about putting up a fight. Thirty-five years of pumping iron, without enough stretching or other flexibility based modalities, will tend to make one tight.
           Working with weights since I was fifteen has made me comfortable with resistance. I’m at home with it. On a cellular level. It’s the world I’ve trained myself to be in. I know how to resist a weight and then force that weight through to completion. In the world of barbells and dumbbells, that’s how it works. In the world of yoga, not so much. My body is so used to resistance, to fighting and forcing my way through it, that it does so automatically. Instead of flowing and breathing into a yoga pose, I fight it. I’m physically unconscious about it. Only when I remind myself, physically and mentally, that “I’m not supposed to resist this” do I gain the ability to move with the motion, with the pose, instead of against it.
           This is the way it is with my body, as I’ve become acutely aware of after doing two and a half weeks of yoga classes. There is a saying that goes “The way you do yoga is the way you do life”. So I started asking myself how often in my life do I engage in resistance? How often do I just muscle through something, attempting to essentially force it (like during a bicep curl), instead of allowing it to unfold (like during a yoga pose)? How often do I act from force in an attempt to control, instead of acting from intentional effort and allowing things to flow? Put another way, how often do I create space in my life for things to happen?
           Forcing things is a learned behavior. So it can be unlearned. And I’m not talking about doing nothing at all and just waiting to see what happens. I’m not talking about passivity. I’m talking about allowing. I’m talking about creating space within the spheres of my life where space is as much a requirement as action. Which is basically all spheres. Even in pumping iron, you have to let the weight down. You have to allow the muscles to rest; in between reps, in between sets, and then for days at a time. Space is part of the equation. You have to give your body the space it needs to grow and change. I sometimes forget that. In the gym and in my life. I more naturally focus on the force. But the space has to be there. It’s an integral, vital, indispensable part of the overall process; of growth, of change, of development, of transformation. Of life itself.
           That’s why yoga is so hard for me. It feels like I should be forcing the pose. But when I do, it just feels like shit. That’s the opposite of pumping iron. In the act of lifting, when I force the weight up, it feels good. So in a way, it’s flipping what I know, what I’m comfortable with, on it’s head.
           On the other side of this is the realization that, in the rest of my life, as in yoga, I have great capacity for flow. I have great capacity to allow, and to create space. I just don’t always see it. And I don't always do it. Especially when I’m cursing my way through Warrior One, or some variation of Twisted Pretzel Position Twelve. When I get out of my own way, I naturally create space for many beautiful and wonderful things in my life to happen. For many wonderful and beautiful things to unfold.  
           But I have to be mindful of this. I have to bring a conscious awareness to it. I have to practice it. My over arching paradigm can not be one of force. My over arching paradigm can, instead, be one of conscious effort with clear intent, followed by letting go. I can engage in appropriate action and simultaneously practice allowance. I can create both the inspired acts and the space needed for those acts to take whatever wing will be.
           I’m discovering that my yoga, like my life, is more of a dance. And less of a bench press.


    ©2014 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.

    Reader Comments (2)

    I love hearing your Voice Clint. Sharing more about the dance and less about the resistance: something we can all relate to.

    July 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate

    And thank you for giving me the beautiful and special sound of Your Voice, Kate.

    July 24, 2014 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

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