Tuesday, August 7, 2007

That Which Does Not Serve You

I've started attending a Yoga for Athletes class at Little Shark, Monday nights. Its certainly been good for me physically, I walk out of the class feeling much less "coiled". Before the madness that is triathlon training began, I practiced yoga regularly - in class when I could get to one and two or three times a week at home. Home practice was certainly beneficial, but practice in a class has more facets - and its much easier to tap into the benefits of yoga that surpass the physical. I always find myself more emotionally and spiritually grounded after a focused practice, and a good teacher along with the vibe from a room full of people focused on their "Om" enhance that. Its been the same with this class.

In fact, I think that coming back to yoga in the thick of my training has brought me more of those "non-physical" benefits than before. Part of the reason is that my body is already pumped with endorphins and waiting for constructive suggestions on what to do with them. The other part, though, has to do with getting away from the mindset that comes with the training. Its so easy to get caught up in the Type A aspects of the sport - the numbers are limitless - intensity, pace, distance, heart rate, percentage of lactate threshold, calories expended, calories ingested, body fat, weight, bmi, pr, pb, you can probably think of a few more. And these things are good, in a way, as long as we don't let them rule us or define who we are. Which brings me to my point.

Last week in yoga class, Kim, the teacher, asked us to "Release that which does not serve you" with each exhale. That which does not serve you. This concept immediately took root with me. So many things don't serve me - though many of them could if I gave them their proper place. The numbers, for instance, can serve me if I see them as my servants and not my masters - another yogic phrase, "The mind is a wonderful servant but a lousy master", applies here as well. What other things in my life no longer serve? Those last five pounds of body fat could go - but so could my returning fixation with them. Chocolate? Nah, that serves me - at least to a point - but an excess only makes me feel ill. Ok, chocolate stays, in moderation. As I go through my day, I begin to take inventory of each thing that serves or does not. Some of them need to be jettisoned: habitual self loathing - OUT; negative labels - OUT; knee-jerk judgments - G'Bye! Others, like the numbers, the training, the chocolate, need to be put in their proper place. So, I gotta little project here - its lifelong, to be sure, but sometimes, all it takes is that one "Lightbulb Moment" (Copyright Oprah Winfrey, 1999) to set it in motion and begin the healing.

Let it go, all of that which does not serve you. Blow it out, and let it go.

8 comments:

teacherwoman said...

Wow, I have always wanted to try yoga as I have hear wonderful things about it, especially for runners. With my new gym membership, I might try it once a week. Does a body good!

No Wetsuit Girl... overseas! said...

Tooooooooooooootally! You are so right. I know my fixation on the numbers doesn't serve me 95% of the time. The body is an ever-changing machine and trying to quantify it drives me crazy and does more harm than good most of the time. I'm definitely going to steal this idea and digest it some more before I'm done with it. Maybe I should go to yoga for more good ideas, but I tried it once and couldn't hang. Something about being still in an aerobics studio and breathing from my tailbone didn't really speak to my type A sensibilities.

Tom said...

Chocolate. Happiness and heaviness in every bite. Buffaloes can be happy and heavy. And they're sweet and brown, too. Beer is what ya gotta look out for. Moderation.

stronger said...

Whew, nice to see you prioritized the chocolate!

21stCenturyMom said...

Got it - self deprecating comments OUT, chocolate - IN! I'm good with that!

Vickie said...

Part of maturity, whether in body or mind, is knowing when to let go "that which does not serve you." Good thoughts.

Jane said...

I need to get back into yoga, but I remember when I did it I would get "competitive" about it, like "oh, I can stretch my leg the farthest in the class" etc. I should practice what I preach. Letting go of most stuff if usually very helpful.

Fe-lady said...

You have inspired me to get back to a yoga class! Thanks! (I remember the feeling...being loose and springy...TOO long ago!)