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    Waking Up

    For years, I resisted doing yoga. Most of it had to do with my body being too tight, and my mind being too narrow when it came to the practice. Physically, even the most rudimentary postures were excruciatingly difficult for me. So no matter class I did, it was beyond challenging. My body felt like it was fighting me, every inch of the way. Mentally, same thing. My mind was resisting feeling so uncomfortable that I wanted to crawl out of myself. 

    But back in my first round of treatment, I overcame those blocks enough to begin a regular yoga practice. I became more accepting of the resistance, instead of resisting the resistance, and that made all the difference. My mind also became more accepting of resistance; not just in yoga, but in all the areas of my life. That physical, mental, and emotional shift continues to serve me when I'm conscious enough to engage it.

    Now, in round two of recovery, I've thrown myself deeper into the practice, committed myself to doing yoga five times a week, doing two different types of yoga, and doing two classes a day as often as possible. I discovered Yin yoga and it's improving my flexibility better than anything else I've ever done.

    Physical flexibility has always been a major impediment to my overall health and wellness. Part of it is genetic. All of my brothers and sisters struggle with it (we are all pretty tight); some, more than others, with me being at the top of the inflexibility totem pole. I'm also the most muscular one in the family, having consistently engaged in resistance training since I was fifteen. I'm a gym rat, and fiercely proud of it. I'm very at home in the weight room. It's like a second home, and I enjoy the process.

    My body, however, was out of balance. Worse, I've always felt like I had all this energy bottled up in my physical form that had trouble being accessed and released. At some point, my very own body appeared to be turning against me, and I began having soreness and pain, somewhere, almost all the time. That reality had something to do with my substance abuse too. I had always been able to count on my body. It was always my anchor when all else failed. Once my body started fighting me back, I got scared. Scared to death. So I became self-destructive. 

    Slowly, however, over the past few weeks, things have started loosing up within me. I attribute that to getting back to a healthy lifestyle, which includes Yin yoga, almost every day. I'm still one physically tight mofo, but I'm getting better. 

    This is all having an effect on my mental state, on my attitude towards life, as well. Just like working with weights made me feel better, made me feel healthier; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, yoga is doing the same thing for me. I'm still at the gym, five days a week, but now I'm counter acting the stiffness with regular Yin yoga. I'm even stretching on my own more now, something I did precious little of in the past.

    Yin yoga is all about softening the muscles. Not in the way I used to think of "soft", which was as in untoned and unshapely. Softer muscles, I've now discovered, can be just as aesthetically beautiful as "hard" muscles. But they function so much better. I'm tired of being "muscle bound". I want to be muscular. And I want to be flexible. For many years, I've seen those two as mutually exclusive.

    In addition, yoga that requires me to hold difficult poses and strain the muscles isometrically is proving very beneficial as well. I want to eventually be able to do a handstand, and other of the more difficult postures. I marvel at those yogis that can do such things with their bodies. My most recent ex-love is a yoga instructor, and inspired me more than she knows. She has an amazingly beautiful body. She is muscular, shapely, flexible, and supple. It's beautiful to see her and other accomplished yogis in those demanding postures. And It's gotta feel as good as it looks.

    This is not just a physical pursuit. All of this works on my mind, my heart, and my spirit as well. I want my heart strong and open. I want my mind sharp and focused and at peace. I want my spirit to feel connected to higher energies and frequencies. Through a combination of Yin yoga, Yang yoga (the more physically demanding type), and resistance training, I see all that as possible. I see it all as necessary. 

    Yoga has been around for thousands of years, and been adopted by countless cultures. Resistance training is relatively new, a response to modern lifestyles that are far more sedately than even just one-hundred years ago. A combination of both feels to me like a beautiful marriage ageless eastern wisdom and modern adaptation to a rapidly changing world.

    It feels like a process of awakening. 


    ©2018 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.

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