Thursday, August 7, 2014

Making peace with the "warrior spirit"

I do both yoga and martial arts. One might think that these are incompatible with each other, but I find that both allow me to express what I like to call my warrior spirit.

If you were to ask any of my yoga instructors about my general attitude in class, they would say I'm an "experienced yogi." One of them has gone so far as nicknaming me "little miss hard-core," since I am willing to try just about any pose. Headstand? I'm on it. Handstand? I'm working on it. Flying poses? I'm all about it. I like a challenge. 

I view yoga as a great way to relax--when I am in a pose, I try to be IN the pose, mindful of my body's position in space, the tempo of my breath, trying to ground myself through the soles of my feet (or fingers, or even entire body, depending on the pose).  

Are there poses I can't do? Sure. There are a lot, actually. Because I also do martial arts, I've built up muscle in areas that prevent me from being completely flexible. Some days, it annoys me. I really want to be able to do ALL the poses, but I've come to accept that there are things my body is just not going to be able to do. It's ok. I'm just built that way.

If you were to ask my martial arts instructors about my general attitude in class, they would probably tell you that I take my classes seriously. When I am a student, I am focused on learning. When I am an instructor, I am focused on teaching.  Are there certain things I'm more willing to do in class? sure. I love working with weapons: sticks, staff, knives, swords... I love them all.  I also like to practice forms when I can. I think they're beautiful and lots of fun. It's like learning a dance routine that has a practical benefit. 

Martial Arts is also a way for me to relax. This is another area where I can be as much in the moment as possible. If you are not aware of where your body exists in relation to your opponent, you can hurt someone (or not, depending on what you're trying to do). 

Are there things I can't do? Sure. I have some hard limits on things because I have physical limitations. I messed up my knee playing kickball a few years ago, and now I have to be careful not to stress it. Same thing with my wrists. So when I spar or do stick work, I have to be conscious of what I am doing.

In both instances, you have to be relaxed in order to get the maximum effect from what you are doing. A tense body will not bend, nor will it be able to strike efficiently. It is through constant practice and muscle memory we eventually get to the point where we don't have to think about what we are doing--we simply DO.  Look at this quote from Bruce Lee:

Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
 Now... how about a yoga quote?
Blessed are the flexible, for they will never be bent out of shape.
Looks like they're not so different after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment