Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yoga for Athletes: A Brainstorm

I want to blog about this because I am about to co-teach this workshop with Traci Joy Burleigh (April 30, 1:30-3:30PM at Bernal Yoga).

Why is Yoga for Athletes a good idea?

I have always tended toward athleticism, but yoga has been an incredibly difficult practice to incorporate due to extreme inner resistance. As is often true when such inner resistance is present, yoga has dramatically improved the quality of my life, athletic and otherwise.

How yoga has helped me athletically:

Yoga has brought forward the subtleties of presence that I had effectively ignored.

Yoga has improved my intuitive balance and spatial awareness from a state of calm that I can now take with me into competition or chaos.

Yoga brings up the inner monsters that take me off track in my sport of choice. I get to address them on the yoga mat, where it is quiet (and I beat them).

Yoga has strengthened my body in ways I cannot replicate in the gym or in martial arts. This type of strength has improved my lifts and fighting style. Slow chatturanga has increased the amount of weight I can bench.

How athleticism has helped me with yoga:

Athleticism teaches that improvement comes with practice. There is no yoga standard to reach. Practice effects change.

Athleticism has given me the courage to be more present with myself. Yoga requires presence without an external opponent, which means there are no distractions from self.

Athleticism has given me lessons from loss. I learn more when I lose. Recognizing the lesson at hand leads to growth.

Athleticism requires persistence. The work is always in progress. A great performance is not the end of the story.

Athleticism has toughened my skin. Being slightly less sensitive has given me the courage to go again, then one more time, and then another, and another. Eventually I grow beyond my perceived limits.

Again, why this is a good idea:

The labels of yogi or athlete are not important. Deepening the relationship with self and physical experience makes life better, physically and emotionally. Exploring this relationship from two nicely counterbalanced perspectives enriches the experience. The strengths of the yogi and the strengths of the athlete are strengths for living.

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