Happy Independence Day, everyone! This one is a little extra special for me, so I'm feeling quite celebratory. (no fireworks necessary). Independence and freedom can be experienced in a number of ways -- physically, mentally, emotionally...Today, thanks to a friend of mine, I'm thinking about the physical.
I'm not one to preach about yoga. Despite the fact that I've benefitted greatly from a regular yoga practice and write a blog devoted to the topic, I realize that it's not for everyone. Granted, I love hearing clients say that they have gained enormous benefits from a practice that they didn't think they would ever be able to have (due to age or inflexibility or time constraints or phyiscal limitations or even preconceived ideas about what yoga is -- I like to address all of these with clients and then help them transcend these perceived roadblocks). Still, I would never force yoga on anyone. I firmly believe that a person needs to come to it on his/her own -- just like any practice/discipline, spiritual or otherwise.
The truth is, I know a lot of folks who admire my regular practice and claim that they want one of their own, yet don't do anything to make that happen. One person, in particular, has a bad back. It gives her quite a bit of trouble, but only intermittenly, which means that she only does something about it when it bothers her. Since I don't believe in quick fixes, I'm more of a do a little something every day rather than a wait until it gets to the crisis point before taking action kind of gal. Unfortunately for my friend, preventative maintenance isn't her thing.
That means that she's suffering right now. Not only does the pain tax her physically but it also affects her mood. All in all, she's not a happy camper when her back starts talking -- or should I say screaming at -- her. Regardless of my gentle urgings to establish a daily practice (no, it doesn't have to be yoga -- it can be stretching or Somatics or acupuncture or massage or inversion or whatever works), she continues the cycle of doing nothing, claiming she doesn't have time to commit to something regular then wishing that she had once the pain hits and debilitates her for days or even weeks (at one point, it lasted for a few months).
We're all looking for that quick hit, but the truth is, we need to approach it with a marathon mentality rather than a sprint mentality. We can't expect to enjoy increased flexibility by practicing yoga one time per week (yes, even if it's a 90-minute class). We can't expect to react less and experience more peace by meditating for 5 minutes 2 times per week. We can't expect to live with more awareness when we're running around 90% of the time and only getting still and going inward 10% of the time. There are no shortcuts to physical, mental, and spiritual well-being (believe me, I know a lot of people who have attempted to short-cut it -- I've even tried it myself a time or two -- and it has never worked). Everything else in this world may be fast -- driving, internet connections, texting, the pace of life in general -- but this is one thing that you can't turbocharge.
Just like the ole' tortoise and hare story -- slow and steady wins the race. Note the steady.
So, if you're suffering from pain (this could be physical, mental, or emotional, but today I'm more focused on the physical), you have to devote some time to healing. You need to work at it every day. The action doesn't have to be big or take a lot of time, but it needs to happen daily.
For myself, I have a number of daily practices that keep me feeling great on all levels and when I notice something feeling not quite right, I step it up and take bigger action to prevent reaching a crisis point.
So, for those of you who are in the same boat as my friend, I urge you to not wait until you're in so much pain that your quality of life is negatively impacted before you do something about it. Here are some resources to help with common issues:
There's a little something for everyone in this list and the DVDs and books mentioned here deal with the physical as well as the emotional. Yes, some of the resources offer quick fix type practices, but done every day, they are no longer quick fixes but daily practices that are easy to fit into your busy schedule thanks to their short duration. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint.
Namaste! (and may your regular practice liberate you from suffering)