Thursday, July 7, 2011

Don't Force It, Ease Into It

If you pull back on a pose, if you ease up on one element of a pose, it will enable you to correct the other aspects so that everything can fall into the correct place.  Changing your approach and your focus to a pose will get you better results in the long term.  It just won’t happen instantly.  It will however, help you to get all the parts of your mind and body to work together smoothly.  Which is what we’re after, isn’t it?

The same is often true of work and even life.  Sometimes just pushing harder is not the answer. Many times pushing ourselves to the edge is counterproductive to what you want.  Working an eighteen hour day rarely produces eighteen hours worth of progress.  There is always a diminishing rate of return.  
I listened to my yoga instructor today as she told me to pull back in a pose. I thought, “but I’m trying to go deeper, why should I pull back?” 
She anticipated my thoughts by saying, "these poses should always be easy.  If they are hard, then you're focusing on the wrong aspect of it."

I thought about it more after class and began to understand what she had said.  Every pose is made up of tens if not hundreds of movements.  Many of them are about changing the details of what you are doing.  Is your knee turned outward?  Are you spinning your triceps upward?  Is your tailbone tucked under?  Are you feeling the stretch here, or here, or here?  

Every one of these elements is a very specific part of your pose.  So if you’re straining, you’re most likely trying to force something further, hoping it will all fall into place.  But you are also neglecting some of the other elements in your pose.  And by doing so, while you may be stretching your hamstring a little further, you are most likely neglecting the myriad of other details that make the pose effective.  

In the first hours you feel like you can do anything.  But as the day progresses you start to slow down.  And after ten hours your productivity is so low it hardly makes sense to even be working.  Yet, there you are.  Compelled to work longer and harder, thinking it will produce the results you need.  

Instead of fighting and pushing yourself to what you think is the edge, think about pulling back.  Think about focusing on another element of your work, or taking a break altogether.  It will get you where you want to go with better results.  And in the end, it may even get you there faster.