Before I had the good fortune to discover Strala I was of the very miss-guided mind set that it wasn’t a good yoga practice if I didn’t sweat my body weight (being someone who is always cold this is not easy to do) and leave feeling absolutely exhausted and perhaps wake up the next morning sore. Harder equaled better.
As this was how the practice of yoga was initially presented to me, it didn’t occur to me that it could be any other way. I actually thought that yoga, and the peace of mind that the physical practice brought, could only be obtained through punishing my body and beating myself to a pulp.
Not surprisingly, I sustained multiple injuries in my practice when it was still very new: pushing my body beyond its limits, not listening to what it was saying, ignoring pain over and over again. In the community I was in, injuries were practically worn like badges- proof that you were a seasoned, dedicated, even “hardcore yogi”. And then one sad day, I was being “adjusted” by an instructor with whom I had been practicing for years, when I heard the two loudest, most sickening pops, followed by the feeling of fire in my right hamstring. Well, that stopped me in my tracks; literally- two out of the three hamstring muscles had been torn. I was pretty much immobile for a while. My ego, that I was convinced I didn’t have, took a pretty big hit. I could barely walk, much less do down dog or warrior one.
So, I slowed down. I took one breath at a time. When my body felt like it was ready, I started going to Relax classes, taking it slow. Very gingerly, after months, I tested out some Strong classes, and came to see first hand what I always say, hear, read and write about: it is the how, not the what. It didn’t matter what class I was taking or what pose I was doing, what mattered was how I was approaching each moment in each class: listening to my body, and moving accordingly. Strala provided me with the space and environment to do so: never pulling me or asking me to push beyond my personal limits.
Much to my surprise, the more I took a less aggressive approach and came at every moment with ease, the stronger and more capable I became physically (I like to think mentally as well.) All of a sudden, things that I had once put effort into became very easy, requiring little to no effort at all. The less I pushed and forced, the more I became open to receive. The more I continue to seek out the ease, the stronger I become.
Have you experienced either side of this? Have you pushed yourself beyond your limits? How have you learned to let go and allow things come without force? If it sounds crazy (or maybe even lazy) to you, try it out sometime: find the strength in ease!