The podcast is a reading of the following post and is 7 minutes and 40 seconds. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments.
Email subscribers, you can right click to download the podcast or click to listen in your browser with this link.
I don’t have a new post this week. Instead I offer you podcast of one of my favorite posts from the archive: Naked Yoga. As an update since this post, I’ve now lost around 80 lbs, though I don’t know for sure because I don’t weigh myself regularly. I also left the gym I had joined and I now practice yoga daily.
I practice yoga naked. I have been practicing yoga with more serious intent for a couple of months now and it feels like a very natural extension to this path that I’ve been on.
This also relates to my daily portrait project from last year. I remember when I started the project I would contort and twist my body into different poses. It was like a physical manifestation of my efforts to remove the shell from around my heart and untie the knot of emotions that I had been choking on for so long.
Over time the physical contorting lessened as I learned to let myself go emotionally. The transformation took place over time and as I closed the project last year my portraits reflected the peace and happiness that has been growing with me as I learn to share the love in my heart.
The yoga poses I practice are a reflection of the stillness I continue to pursue along with the comfort I feel with my body. Each pose challenges me and I learn to conform the pose to my body as I work my body into the pose. As my body finds the equilibrium my mind rests and I find there is little room left inside my mind, heart and soul. The peace fills me.
The stillness is yet elusive, but like the perfect pose perfect stillness is never achieved. Instead I take each pose and each moment to breathe, feel my body and acknowlege the thoughts in my mind as I allow them to float by.
I practice yoga naked because it feels right. The clothes that I was wearing when I first started practice were cumbersome, they would get in the way and distract me from the breath and my body in the moment. I feel freer when I practice naked and my body flows more smoothly and I feel more comfortable and whole in that freedom.
Last July I joined a gym and started an exercise program. For the last six months I was following the stronglifts 5×5 program, with which I have had great success. I lost 45 pounds as of my last weight check and more importantly I have gained strength and balance, making my body healthier than it has been in a long time.
Now though as I move forward and pursue yoga I look to transition away from the stronglifts program and to focus more on yoga for my fitness and health. There are a few reasons for this.
- I exercise alone, and with that comes a strong danger of injury as I get into heavier weights, particularly in the squats, overhead press and dead lift.
- My goal was never to be a muscle man, but to be fit and healthy. Weightlifing requires continual progress and additional stress to be most effective. I haven’t found a way to achieve equilibrium in this kind of strength training.
- To continue to strength train I will either need a gym membership or to purchase my own weight equipment.
Conversly the benefits I am finding with yoga are
- Equilibrium. I am able to accept myself in each moment and yet in each moment I can feel the efforts my body is making through the pose.
- Mobility. I can do Yoga anywhere. I don’t even really need my mat.
- Whole body wellness. In Yoga I have found areas of my body that were being neglected by the weightlifting program.
What I have learned from Yoga
There is no perfection
I’ve talked about this before and in yoga this is a constant reinforcement. There is no perfect pose, no perfect body, no perfect blog post, painting, photo or book. Nothing is perfect. Everything is perfect. By putting the whole of our sincere efforts into what we do and accepting that nothing is perfect, we achieve perfection.
The body is not to coform to the pose, the pose is to conform to the body. As I make efforts to find the pose there is a point where my body and the pose join. This is the point where I can feel the stretch, when my muscles are trembling on that edge of almost too much and I am breathing peacefully.
The same equilibrium must be applied to our lives, pushing ourselves to that edge and holding in that moment. We need to recognize that we have limits and that limits aren’t bad. We need to recognize that sometimes there is a too far and that’s okay. Equilibrium is the point right before too far. Resting in that place is where you want to be.
Always Seek the Edge
It is then in the next practice that your edge has expanded. When you accept equilibrium in a pose you give your body the chance to prepare itself for the next time you embrace this pose. In doing so you expand your limits without going too far. Yoga is also about challenging yourself and by using equilibrium to expand your limits you challenge yourself without going too far.
In all things accepting that there is a limit and that our limits can be changed and moved with our sincere efforts allows us to challenge ourselves and accept ourselves as we are. This is the harmony of growth without ego, the beauty of emerging into ourselves. Instead of trying to force and control our limits we let them grow with us.
There is always and edge and we can always find that edge.
You might think this doesn’t pertain to yoga, but I think it does. I practice yoga naked in part because the clothes get in the way, but also because it feels audacious to do it. People don’t generally practice yoga naked (though I’m well aware I’m not the first, last or only one doing it). Practicing naked makes me feel more confident, a little naughty, and a lot good for giving myself permission to do this. That confidence translates into a richer practice in which I feel the ability to accept the challenge of the poses and expand the limits of my body and mind.
Additionally poses in yoga are audacious and challenging. Moving your body in these unconventional ways is an expression of a desire to go beyond the norm to find something greater. However these poses are not challenging for the sake of challenge. Each pose gives you benefit, through the pursuit of stillness, acceptance of the moment, the opening of the body and stretching and strenghening the body.
Likewise in your pursuits you need to be audacious, but not for its own sake. There are people who do things simply to do them and doing a thing for the sake of its outrageousness reduces your net gains from the experience. Instead apply this willingness to be audacious to the things you truly care about, the things on your short list. In doing this your audaciousness with expand the joy you have in pursuit of your passions and will help you grow as you challenge yourself in something you truly care about.
If you agree with me be audacious and tell your friends and family what you think by sharing this via the tweet and like buttons below. Namaste.