Friday, March 9, 2007

Beginner Yoga Guide

You can underachieve your way to yoga mastery...

There's a great danger when you start any kind of exercise program or even any kind of self development program that you try to do too much too soon.

It's important to understand that your body, your mind and your emotions will adapt to the pressure you put on them.

Your body will bend to a certain point.

Your mind will stretch.

But if you push too far too soon something will break.

Injuring yourself or "flipping out" mentally or emotionally is counterproductive.

That's why one of the greatest yoga secrets is that you can "underachieve" your way to yoga mastery.

You can underachieve in the development of your body.

Your can underachieve in the development of your conscious awareness and the process of calming your thoughts.

You can underachieve in the process of letting go of your emotions and becoming more calm, peaceful and balanced.

It's okay to underachieve.

In fact underachieving is pure common sense.

In our modern world we're trained pushed and cajoled to do more, be more, work harder, work smarter, and move faster.

It's like we're trying to raise a culture of supermen and superwoman.

Yet we've forgotten that the greatest secret to building strength is not pushing up 200 pound weights today in some ego based testosterone blast of unprepared folly.

In ancient times they understood you have to give your mind and your body a chance to adapt.

Milo of Kroton became one of the strongest men in the history of ancient Greece by lifting a bull calf every day when he was a boy.

Milo kept lifting that calf onto his shoulders day after day.

As Milo grew older so did the calf.

As he reached his teens Milo was lifting a fully grown adult-sized-bull onto his shoulders.

Now think about this story and the way you approach your yoga practice.

If Milo tried to lift a full grown bull onto his shoulders when he was a boy he would've done himself an injury.

And this is exactly what many people do when they start practicing yoga.

They try to "lift the bull" in their first class or in their first meditation practice.

If you do too much too soon you'll blow out.

But if you follow Milo's example and give yourself a chance to adapt gradually you can do nearly anything.

Always stay well within your capacity.

When you practice yoga, be aware of your body and the quality of your breath – they will give you signs... both good and bad

Be on high alert for bad signs so you don't do any damage to yourself.

Be on alert for good signs so you can key into the things that are really useful and beneficial for your practice.

From your body you may sense feelings of ease, power, vitality, harmony (good signs)... or possibly pain, pulling, tension, and discomfort (bad signs).

STOP if you have pain or serious discomfort.

If it's a minor problem you can re-evaluate what you're doing, make changes and start again.

Find the movements that bring you stability, ease, and strength.

Sensations of working and stretching can be good as long you don't overdo it. When in doubt, underacheive.

It's exactly the same when you work on calming your thoughts and emotions.

Don't get upset if thoughts and emotions come.

Just accept them.

Here's a mind-bender.

Don't even get upset if you get upset at your thoughts and emotions.

Just accept where you're at.

It's alright.

You don't have to be superhuman.

Let go of the whole idea of getting anywhere physically, mentally and emotionally and embrace and accept exactly where you are right now.

When you're growing up you have to take baby steps before you can walk.

Developing your yoga practice is the same.

Just be at peace with where you're at now, take it step by step and underachieve your way to yoga mastery.

By Andrew Cavanagh


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