I have the privilege to coach our local baseball team in yoga as part of their pre-season conditioning. To be honest, it was a bit daunting to walk into the first class of 24 high school athletes; 1 of whom had been to a yoga class in the past and 23 of whom had preconceived notions about the practice. Om’ing cross-legged mystics who could wrap their legs around their ears.
So, I get them into a meditative sitting position and focused on their breath. They set an intention for their practice, and then the sweat started to roll. And,as in all situations, we are both teacher & student. So here’s what I’ve learned from them:
1) People are people, regardless of age. Some are slow to get into poses they are afraid of, some quit the moment something starts to hurt, and some are serious warriors with fierce determination for mastery. (I love this latter group… My tribe).
2) Time waits for no one. If you take 3 breaths to simply arrive in a posture, it’s 50% over. 50% of the opportunity for growth, expansion, strength is blown. Same in life. Father Time is the most consistent, predictable guy in the universe. Tick. Tick. Tick. Perfect repetition. Time doesn’t slow down to meet us and it can’t be reclaimed once expired. It’s gone. Whether you capitalized on it or not is entirely your choice.
3) Fear is an indicator that you need to take action. It is OK to opt out of something simply because it doesn’t interest you or it isn’t in alignment with your goals. But opting out because of fear puts out a tiny bit of your inner fire. And over time – repeating that pattern – the fire will be so dim it no longer lights the way. No longer shines. This is our one shot at life. Step into fear, breathe, and do it. Even if just a little step towards it. Often, when I call out an arm balance, the majority of the class spends that time watching the few warriors who immediately try it. On the sidelines. It isn’t about achieving it or doing it well… it’s about refusing to allow fear to run your life. Fear makes us small, and the tiniest actions to look it square in the eye and act reignites our fire. It rebuilds our belief in ourselves. And even if we fall flat on our face, we still did it. And as in most yoga poses, falling never hurts as much as we think it will.
4) If you can, you must. This is a mantra in my life. If you’re facing a challenge, we have options. We can bail, give half of our full potential, hedge, make excuses, make light of it, or step into the challenge with an open heart and mind and give our all. How you do anything is how you do everything. If you “cheat” in your fitness plan or fail to take that big risk at work… the chance is gone and all you’ve done is sold yourself short. Period. You would never look yourself in the mirror and say “You’re not good enough.” So why send that message to yourself in your action?
5) Failure is the best coach I’ve ever had. I’ve learned a lot from amazing people, but at the end of the day, my best teacher has been failure. But here’s the rub…. The moment we give meaning to failure and create a story around it, we make it ours. It stamps itself in us on a cellular level and we carry it around forever. The objective is to see it as a barometer. Can you be curious about failure? Hmmm… that’s interesting. I thought that work, but it didn’t. Now what’s next? Step back in. Keep going. Try again. Rumor has it Edison had 1000 failed attempts at the lightbulb before one worked. When a reporter asked, ‘How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?’ Edison replied, ‘I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.’