Breaking it Down

“I realized I couldn’t put all of my strength on the pull. I have to put some on the pull and some on the ground in my feet so I don’t fall down.”

I have the distinct honor of hearing lots of “ah-ha’s” in my private sessions with clients. They realize what is working and what is not working; what to nurture in their movement patterns and what to quiet; that there is room to explore with curiosity and not to feel so beaten in this game of the body. It is awesome to bear witness to this process.

Now back to that quote that I opened with. That first quote wasn’t from a client. Nope. It was my almost 7 year old son reflecting on how he refined his technique in tug-of-war for field day.Seriously. Have I mentioned how much I love my kids? They are my very best teachers in this role of yoga therapist.

I know I’m a movement dork and you may not be but what can we both learn from John’s statement? There may be more than you think. Let’s break it down a bit (with full admission that I’ll use my terms instead of his now):

1.  Get curious. We can’t change what we’re not aware of. Pay attention.
He could have kept on putting 100% of his weight in his arms and falling over every time a shift occurred in his team’s direction of pull or the other team’s effort. But he didn’t.
2.  Get curious. Recognize what is working for you. And what is not.
John understood that he still needed effort in his upper body because he had to hold the rope and pull on it. Cool. So, he didn’t give up the ghost up there. But he also realized that he kept falling when anything about the game didn’t stay static. He recognized he didn’t have foundation when he put all of his attention on the dynamic work of the upper body.
3. Get curious. Refine your approach.

So, then he tried something else. “Hmm…” John thought to himself. “What if I put some of my strength in the pull and some in my feet? Will that change things?” He redistributed his effort in order to use just enough in the arms and thus to still have stability in his legs AND responsiveness to shifting demands on his body in the game. Crazy high tech and he didn’t even know it, right?

4.  Get curious. Did your outcome meet your intention? Check back in.

Now that John has redistributed his effort and he is more efficient in his approach, he feels power and stamina. He feels both stable and able to respond to the shift of the force in the game. Yes, his outcome meets his intention.

Pretty cool, huh? John does this naturally because he’s 6 going on 7. He doesn’t have layers of stories and experiences that shift his trust in his body and his trust in getting even better at what he is doing. He’s just got a wealth of curiosity and the will to explore.

As adults, we have the layers of stories that can get in our way. Many times, I see people get tripped up in either: A) Ignoring that something is up – hoping and wishing it will eventually go away on it’s own, B) Not believing that there is any other option than the way things are playing out. This might show up in thoughts like:
“It always feels funky in down dog. Should it feel different?”
“This neck pain has always been here. It’s just how it is.”
“If I’m not sweating, I’m not doing anything.”

These are layers of thoughts that we’ve likely heard run through our brains millions of times. They are subjective. They are loaded. We label things as good or bad.

And then there is the body. It’s sensations. The clear feeling when it is working well and when it is not. What happens when we listen – like John did – to what is working (power in his arms) and what is not (no foundation in his legs) and we choose to refine? What potential could you have both on your mat and beyond?

Get curious. Pay attention. Notice what is working for you. Notice what is not. Get curious. Refine your approach. Get curious. What do you think of your outcome? This last step is key and should be repeated… What do you think of your outcome? Be explicit and conscious about the choices you are making and the effects they have on you.

If John can do it at 7, we can all do it. May the children that we see inspire us toward the greatness of curiosity. After all, we have no idea what is really possible. We only know there is more. There is always more.

Do reach out with thoughts or reflections.
Be well,

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