“Cocaine?” “Yes.” I replied. “I did just say cocaine”. There were 20 students staring blankly at me with that “is-this-a-yoga-class?” look on their faces.
I had just settled in, read the class energy, and assessed what best to teach to this group right in front of me. They looked tired, they looked eager to get moving, to burn energy, to raise their heat, to sweat, to work out. To get something done. They didn’t need to actually say anything. It was all there. Bodies running on empty, minds running on overdrive, enthusiasm and inspiration dulled like a smouldering piece of wet wood in a fire.
I launched into my typical narrative. “Yoga is about bringing the body and mind into balance. We assess where we are at in the present moment and do the best most efficient form of practice to get us into balance. If you are tired you can reach for a coffee, or a red bull or cocaine.....” After the interruption, I continued, “So let’s see how we can bring our energy up without burning our energy out. You guys in?” More blank stares.
This is how my classes typically begin. You see, I have to TEACH, not just choreograph. It’s not a popular, get-more-likes way of teaching. But invariably at the end of class, students come up and thank me. They learn little things along the way. How to best accommodate their body to the purpose of the pose, how certain poses done in certain ways with certain breath ratios can have noticeable affects that extend beyond the brief time on their mats. They learn how to be safe and to truly honor that inimitable right of a human being; POTENTIAL. I pray that they get it. Every time I pray that they get it.
I remember when I was racing triathlons in my early thirties, building a start-up company, traveling incessantly, and trying to attend every fun event that came up; my running coach lectured me on the power of rest. The classic “tapering” process before a race, where you allow the body to fuel up to go the distance come race day. It was so hard to stop working out during taper week. But it was right.
In the triathlons of our lives we need these rest, restore and refuel intervals to be at our best. For some of you that may mean one day of not doing anything - no, nothing! And for some of us that never heeded that advice early on, you may need months, or a year, like me.
We disavow the wealth of our bodily potential by being stuck in our mental expectations of success and goal acquisition, by pushing our meat beyond the limits, we are left listless. Worse yet, we don’t really talk about it. To admit you are tired, stressed, weary of the commute, the long hours, the endless sitting, the uppers in the morning, the downers at night, is akin to admitting defeat.
But if we don’t rest, restore and refuel, we lose! We lose clarity, we lose potentiality, we lose the long haul. Life is amazing, why not live in a sustainable way? Besides, there’s so much to DO and SEE and EXPLORE. As we live longer as a human race, don’t you want your quality of life to be at its best for that long haul?
My other favorite quote from a student at the beginning of class is “I’ll sleep when I die”
Yea, Ok. Go ahead.
Photo Cred: Brenna Geehan