Monday, May 11, 2009

"Having doesn't mean ANYTHING..."

"... unless you know how to what?  Use it!"  Or: "I have biggest swimming pool in Beverly Hills.  Is useless to me.  Know why?  (Why boss?)  I don't know how to swim!!"

We hear this all the time, but that doesn't make it any less true.  It applies in practically every situation you can think of.  Bikram applies it to your body, mind, and spirit, saying that you can unlock their full potential by practicing yoga.  I love that, and I think he's right.

I was thinking about that sentence today in relation to the yoga itself.  I remember last summer during my last week in Boston, when I went out for lunch with two of my favorite teachers (husband and wife) and we sat around in the upper level of this great Algerian hole-in-the-wall cafe in Harvard Square and had tea and pancakes and talked for hours, about yoga, about our studio, about our lives.  I remember that one of the things my teacher said to me, which planted something warm and glowing deep in my sternum, was "we have watched you do so much with this yoga."

At the time, I mainly just heard his praise, which was still so important to me, but now I'm thinking of it in a different light.  We all have this yoga, but we are the ones who decide what to do with it.  Over time, we have to learn how to use it.  At first - for the first days, weeks, months, or even years - just showing up might be enough.  Just getting through that class can be a really big deal, and if the instructor is good and the student follows the instructions, a whole new world opens up automatically.

But for those of us who practice faithfully for years, I think it's absolutely vital that we learn how to use the yoga postures that we have, rather than just falling into the same routine and going along for the same ride every day.  Take the posture, study it, understand it, own it, and then USE IT, for whatever you need that day, that week, that year.  Flexible but not so strong?  Find the strength in every posture and use it.  Strong but stiff?  Find those places where your strength can be used to open your body, and use them.  Aching back, hips, joints?  Find the theraputic benefit of each posture and use it.  You can give yourself anything you need in those 26 postures - a burst of energy, a full body massage, a release from anxiety, anything - and sometimes it will happen on its own, organically, but sometimes you have to "do something" with the yoga.  You can use it as your personal tool box to make absolutely anything you want, and man, it is so cool when you start to figure out how to do that.  I'm pretty sure I've barely tapped in.  You have everything you need, but as they say, that doesn't mean anything unless you know. How.  To use it.  

The series is so powerful, so intelligent in its own right, but sometimes people come in day after day after day and their bodies are not changing, their lives are not changing, nothing is happening, because they have the biggest swimming pool in Beverly Hills but they don't know how to swim...

Learn how to swim.


hannahjustbreathe said...

Your best post yet, J.

And this reminded me of something my father used to tell me: how it was one thing to be naturally talented---but it was quite another to put those talents to good use.

I strive to incorporate the lessons I learn in that hot room into my life day in and out. And seeing those lessons in action, played out, is truly amazing to me.

thedancingj said...

COOL, thanks!! I'm just stringing together some of the ideas that are floating around my head all the time, so it is pretty exciting to me when I can actually tie things together and get a point across...

Your dad is pretty smart. :)

The Missus said...

HEAR! HEAR! Excellent advice!


thedancingj said...


I knoooow, I know, I know! I'm just kind of in the middle of something right now. (You know, the whole grad school thing.) Was thinking about just dropping out, but decided eh... not reaaally the best plan.

Fall 2010 looks like a possibility, though. :)

bikramyogachick said...

I love this post. Swimming has come up twice in my life the past few days. My half sisters mom wrote me an email telling me to "just keep swimming" (finding nemo). I like what Hannah's father said too. Lot's of gems in these blogs! Thank you!

thedancingj said...

Oh my god, I didn't even THINK of Finding Nemo, and I used to sing that line to myself ALL the time. Thanks for making the connection! :)