I love to be doing.
If I’m running, I like do be out on the street going somewhere, rather than running on a treadmill or around a track. Even if my street route is basically the equivalent of a really big track: At least I go in one circle rather than around in circles.
If I’m teaching, I like to be moving around my classroom, offering feedback to students individually or in small groups. I can’t count the number of times I’ve come to my desk at the end of the day to discover that a student has usurped my “teacher chair” because they figured I wasn’t using it and therefore wouldn’t miss it. (To be fair, they’ve been right every time.)
If I’m choosing an asana practice, I like active, fluid vinyasas. Even if I don’t move super-fast through them, my general preferred rhythm includes relatively more physical movement and relatively less physical stillness.
I’m not so great at letting things happen to me.
I can think of a lot of reasons for that.
Doing things makes me feel accomplished and worthwhile.
When I hear or read fitness talk, much of it is rooted in doing: actively working to make oneself faster, stronger, thinner, more socially acceptable and/or conventionally attractive. Even if I don’t want to be all of those things, it’s easy to internalize the idea that action is good. Not always but often, inaction conjures images of laziness, staying home on the couch.
In other areas of my life, letting things happen is equated with ideas about victimhood. I shouldn’t have let myself get raped. I shouldn’t let pain from bad endo days keep me from activities I love. I shouldn’t let the Arizona legislature’s attacks on education and on women wear me down. Even though I realize the emphasis is all wrong in those examples, it’s easy to internalize the idea that letting things happen is somehow bad or weak.
And yet. In yoga, in muscles, in bodies, sometimes this is precisely the right choice.
My hips get tight from running. My shoulders get tight from push-ups and, if I’m going to be completely forthcoming, probably all of the chaturangas and forearm stands as well. My back gets tight from everything.
In times like this, the trick to taking good care of my body is to quit trying so hard, to stop doing and start letting.
[Video from Mark Laham Yoga via YouTube.]