If you are going to play world class sports, you’re probably going to get injured. The World Cup soccer final was like a monster truck rally without the trucks. Of course the players have trainers, physical therapists, physicians, massage therapists and others at their beck and call; nevertheless, they are like modern day gladiators – ultimately mortgaging their bodies for their sport.
The world is mesmerized by the performance of these athletes. And so the extreme exercise mentality, seemingly necessary for success in this level of competition, naturally spills over into the larger culture. We are led to believe that it’s through this kind of intense striving that we can be successful – in sports as well as in other areas of our lives. Most of us, elite athlete or not, have probably abused our bodies in one way or another – we’ve taken out our own mortgages for our own reasons.
Yoga – at least in the way that I understand and teach it – can repay the mortgage. Yoga can help develop a capacity for openness and listening. The body has lots of things to say, but if you are engaged in trying to get it to do what you want, you shut down the potential for that conversation.
And why is it useful to have that conversation?
Because it’s what opens the door to a quieter nervous system, a happier cardiovascular system, a smoothly functioning digestive system, a clearer state of mind and a deeper sense of peace and purpose.
Exercise is important for sure. And so is innercise. Perhaps there’s nothing particularly entertaining about watching someone remain calm and respond rather than react to life’s challenges. The mundane fact that someone got out of bed in the morning without much pain is not going to make The Daily Beast. But these quiet changes are often the greatest accomplishments of yoga.
So here are some questions: Can you be content celebrating the small stuff? Can you guide others toward that contentment as well? Or are you compelled to go for the cup at all costs?