Recently, a woman came up to me after class and told me how much she appreciated the assistance that I had given her in the class. She has bad knees and was definitely tentative, if not scared, of some of the poses – and rightfully so. Then, disturbingly, she told me that she would never be back because we are too inflexible here at BYSJ, having rules in the yoga room, especially the one that does not allow members to turn their mats for Triangle posture. I was a bit stunned to say the least, especially after she had just completed poses she never thought possible! BUT her investment in holding this unyielding perspective superseded any benefit she got from the class. I am certain that she really won’t be back, and this now has me pondering “rules”. Why are we so hell bent on some of the rules we try to instill in the class?
Years ago I read this great article by an NFL football player that had many troubles off the field. His life was turning around and he was having some great success in that particular season. What I recall most from this article was his statement: “There is great freedom in the discipline.” Whoa! Yes, there is. And not just in sports, but in all areas of life. For example, can you imagine not having rules on the road? No stop signs, no traffic lights, no white or yellow lines, no directional signage, no speed limits – okay that might be fun – but you get my point. Chaos! Because of those “rules” that we all live by, we not only feel safe but enjoy some sense of freedom as we drive wherever we want to go! For this football player, regardless of the rule itself, he found a way to love living in an infrastructure as he came to realize that it enabled him to then move freely and grow WITHIN it! And thus have his fantastic season!
This essay is not about defending yoga rules. Instead, it’s a tribute to the 60 Day Challengers who have not only had to apply themselves to the rules of the Challenge and to the rules of the hot room (no hand towels, no water, no turning, no laying down, use the blue border, stay quiet at all times) but create new rules in order to practice not two or three times a week, but every day for 60 consecutive days. Adding hydration to your diet, stopping at one glass of wine, slowing up on eating so much before class, arranging new pick up times for kids, postponing appointments to get to class, blocking out times in advance for doubles when travel interferes, washing clothes every day, nursing sore muscles…these are only a few things that must be dealt with that come to mind as I write. Your infrastructure, whether you are conscious of it or not, had to change in such a way to support the goal you set for yourself back in January. That wasn’t going to be lip service but a commitment to be lived out! During this time, with all this discipline, you trained yourself to instill new habits providing higher levels of freedom – in your body and in your mind. Congratulations!
I am so looking forward to my favorite evening of the year, the 60 Day Challenge Party, as each of you share your story on what it took to manifest a goal you once only verbalized. I am certain many of you will also state how good you feel now as a result. My admiration isn’t limited to one area however, the one I’m noting here is regarding your ability to not get stuck on a “rule” or a “perspective” that you held so tightly, or on a routine “that you just couldn’t change”, preventing you from procuring the benefits this challenge offers. The exercise in overcoming something that was once “immovable” illustrates instead the posture in which you choose to hold life – your powerful will CAN’T be met with the more powerful wills of creation through rigidity and narrow mindedness but only through a process of allowing, letting go, and opening! FREEDOM!