Did your parents ever tell you that you can do anything when you grow up? I’ve struggled a lot with this, switching back and forth between believing it and not. Once you get to a certain age, you see a job market full of positions that seem impossible, people who are accomplishing feats you never dreamed/heard of, and yourself as a limited being. On the flip side, given the right training, dedication, and commitment, why can’t we do whatever we put our minds to?
We have a set of tools given to us at birth. As we move through life, we use those and gather more. Getting older, we gather even more, and develop on top of what we already have. Think of the iPhone. It was amazing when it first came out – a pocket-size computer! Then, it got a little more advanced, and more and more until it turned into a pocket-sized computer/camera/phone/flashlight/compass/… Humans are way more advanced than computers. We get to use brains and emotions and physical expression to communicate and progress through life. When we gather all those things and bring them together, we create ENDLESS POTENTIAL. A practice in yoga or meditation helps us hone in on those skills and intertwine them in a way that makes each individual part of us stronger and more powerful. Consider a straightforward Plank Pose. It’s used in many different exercise regimens, and every instructor tells you the same thing: Use your core, your legs, your upper back. The more parts of the body you add together, the longer you can hold this challenging pose, and the lighter you can feel while you’re in it. As our breath and body work together, we create expansion beyond what either could do individually. As our mind and body unite, the power of each is infinitely heightened. As the mental, emotional, and physical bodies work together, we can engage with ease, meditate with strong focus, study, commit, practice, and ultimately achieve what we were aiming for.
We have the power to do anything within the limitations of our current self. That current self can be expanded upon, and the definition of “anything” can change. When you attempt to run with a sprained ankle, it is going to work against you. If you use therapeutic walking and ankle movement exercises, you’ll be challenged, focused, and as fulfilled as you would have been with a run. The run is not the goal; your health and happiness are, and those are achieved through either method as long as your mind is in an accepting and aware state.
Become aware of what you want before you consider if you can do it or not. Even think about why you want it. Is your goal the run, or is your goal healthiness? If it’s the latter, your focus is entirely different than you might have thought. Both take work, but you can’t achieve either unless you know which you’re aiming for. With yoga practice, we are progressing from DAY 1. It doesn’t matter if your second class is 6 years later, your body and mind have become aware of the idea that they can connect through breath and that the physical body, more specifically, our own physical body can do a lot more than we realized. I don’t like to set goals for my practice and I even encourage my students against it because the practice is ongoing. It is reflective of how we deal with things at work, with friends, what makes us angry and happy and fearful. The yoga mat is like a mirror reflecting all of our tendencies. As our practice progresses, the mirror reveals more and different aspects of ourselves. We are always shifting and changing. Upon becoming aware of a misalignment in your shoulders, you may adjust it and reveal something in your neck, or in your childhood that caused the misalignment. Then, you’re on to the next step. Goals make it seem like there is an end point. With yoga, with life, there is no end point until you stop living (and that’s a whole different discussion). That doesn’t mean you can’t look to the future and plan and be proud of accomplishing each step along the way, but be sure to be present for each step. Your future becomes bigger as your present awareness heightens.
Start the process of discovering your endless potential by knowing that it’s there, whether you recognize it or not. You can do anything. Take steps to establish what you need, down deep, not just what it looks like you want/”need” on the surface. Take one step at a time and appreciate each step. Experience each step fully and enjoy yourself along the way. Before you know it, you’ll have accomplished what you aimed for without even realizing it because you’re so much more expansive (experienced, knowledgeable, aware) than you could have even planned for!
Brandee Goatcher is a yoga teacher at Siesta Yoga. She studies tantric yoga philosophy and Hatha asana. You can find her teaching 6 days of the week at Siesta Yoga (schedule). Join her for an alignment-based class that will connect you to your breath and your heart.