Do you know what really motivates you to exercise deep down?
On the surface, it is easy to assume that you do it because exercise is good for you as doctors and scientists keep telling us. Could it be that it is not all that black and white? Not that I am discouraging you from exercising at all. You’ll always gain some benefits from exercising, but do you always get only benefits? And do you get the best out of your practice regardless of how or why you do it?
When I used to exercise out of being self-conscious about my weight or the way I looked, I was totally overdoing it. I was exercising with all the uptight energy coming from efforting to control my body, shape it, trim it, make it thinner. And although exercising was still beneficial to me in some ways, the problem was that it was motivated by a sense that I was not good enough, I was not lovable or attractive enough as I was and would not be till I reach this unrealistic ideal (for most of us) imposed by the media to all of us, especially women.
Why is it a problem? It is a problem because when the underground reason for exercising is fear-based self-consciousness, you are actually stressing the body in a way that stems from and activates your “reptilian brain”. This results in the production of a stress hormone called Cortisol which affects both your mind and body into protective mode favoring holding and contraction. This tends to keep you in the fear based cycle of not feeling good enough unless you are pushing yourself. Exercise becomes an addiction of sorts. How do you truly feel when you reach your goal, do you appreciate it and relax or are you driven to keep going like the hamster on his wheel? Does this sound like a familiar cycle? You are definitely getting some good benefits from the physicality of yoga, but is it worth it to not examine the real reason motivating you to practice when it can actually strengthen your underground stress level in the process? Not to mention that this is what promote straining on and off the mat.
When practicing yoga is really love-based, you are truly nurturing your body in a way that stems from and activates the “pre-frontal cortex”. It creates a feel-good hormone called oxytocin or the “love hormone” which affects both your mind and body into open-mindedness and expansion. It also allows you to function as a fluid coordinated self. This develops flexible strength as one skill instead of focusing on stretching, strengthening or posture organizing as if they were separate from each other. The more you approach movements as a coordinated self, the more your body handles the perfect adjustments necessary for any chosen activity. Your Whole Body Intelligence knows how much to stretch this muscle, or strengthen that muscle and realign your postural balance for you all at once. Straining becomes unnecessary.
And in this process, your synergy changes to be more functional without needing to strain or push yourself in the usual sense of the term. You challenge yourself by choosing and staying in a specific pose or activity yet you let go of the strain so your body can step up to the plate and do its magic! The idea is to let your body do its job and trust its innate intelligence. It knows better than your mind and the results are safer.
I once was totally off balance for months. As I got out of my overthinking mind to observe my every movements , I was able to discover and then let go of habitual patterns that were straining my body. While letting go, I was also rebooting my whole body synergy using my Body Intelligence Activation Process (B.I.A. Process), a way to allow the natural way to take over. As a result, my own body reorganized my very twisted posture into perfect balance in a month time when constant visits to chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists had not given any sustainable results for a period of 6 months.
Acting on and off the mat from a place of “Self-Consciousness” is not serving you because it is rooted in a feeling of inadequacy that you feel you must overcome, product of your intellect judging your self as not good enough. I know because I have been there and it is easy to revisit that familiar place when we are not in the now. Instead let’s be rooted in the present moment, accepting of what is. Acting from a place of “Self-Awareness” outside the intellect is the way to blossom into whatever you choose to do on or off the mat.
And learning to activate the Intelligence of your Whole Body is an awesome key to letting go of self-consciousness and embrace self-awareness, it is a process that allows your mind and your whole-body wisdom to be team partners, living in the same time zone in a way that gives you optimal safety and best performance whether you are on the mat or in daily life. It positively affects your level of self confidence and self appreciation while you get the most out of your yoga and out of life.
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Once again I’m the first to comment here. Superb article and a real eye-opener. I work in a school and during staff coffee breaks one of the regular topics of conversation is exercise/diets. It’s never really struck me before but this obsession with comparing how often and how much we “train” (training for what?) is rooted in a feeling of not being good enough as we are. Ah hah 🙂
Thanks Rob for your ongoing appreciation of my blogs and for taking the time to give a feedback. Many people like it where I post it (like on FB) but don’t often share what they like.:)
And when they do, they comment right on FB!:)