How do you feel? That question used to give me hives. I’ve never been a touchy-feely person and I figured I was getting along in life just fine without this trait. I’m not alone – research suggests that it’s getting harder and harder to tap into our feelings. In my society we’ve been programmed to push through the pain, discomfort. We can only be successful in doing this if we cut ourselves off from how we feel.
The scary result is that our bodies have stopped communicating with us in a normal way. We are hard pressed to even know whether a yoga pose, movement or situation feels good or bad — let alone the bigger life decisions— which we’ve ceded to paid experts. I know; I’ve been there. The first few days of Strala training, Tara kept saying do this / do that “if it feels good.” I kept thinking “…what the heck does she mean?” I didn’t even know whether a yoga move felt good, let alone something bigger!
Since I travelled all that way to liberate myself from creeping burnout and dissatisfaction — I thought I’d completely open up to the process of sensitizing myself through movement. Although this might sound crazy – Strala is based on mind-body medicine, which includes healing concepts such as ease, the relaxation response. If you take the concepts’ inverse – there are so many painful, costly, debilitating conditions that are caused by unnatural movement and stress (dis-ease). Well being, calm and creativity through sensitization and natural movement makes a lot of sense.
Brilliant theory aside – I first had to drop the idea of what a yoga pose /practice looked like. I was super blessed to learn from Tara & Mike because they’ve already been there and done that — and have the battle scars to prove it. Under their leadership and care, I got to practice yoga several hours per day in a way that honored my process of discovery, awakened and reaffirmed my intuition.
Being someone who was/is driven, I drank the Western, type-A flavored Kool-Aid.
The no pain, no gain flavor, which tastes better with ice. The whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger flavor which is best with Ibuprofen or stronger. The grin and bear it flavor which settles nicely with anti-depressants. And the fake it til you make it flavor which pairs nicely with anti-anxiety pills. All of these flavors have worked its way into many styles of yoga. Sometimes we injure ourselves. Sometimes we injure others.
There are so many paradoxes in yoga. It’s billed as relaxing – yet it’s probably the most competitive activity in which you can participate. Many yoga teachers will tell you “each shape is different” “each day, practice is different,” while at the same time – calling the same alignment cues from day-to-day to each body in the class. If our bodies are different from day-to-day, shouldn’t our shapes also be different from day-to-day? Won’t our alignment needs also change from day-to-day? Who is best to call out these alignment cues? The teacher or the practitioner?
I know this thinking represents and requires a huge paradigm shift. I was lost for many days. I worried about people’s response for many days. But those days are long gone! I’m reaping so many benefits from moving how it feels good; with the cognizance that the boundaries are limitless — there’s no way I’m going back to traditional yoga. It simply doesn’t offer me the endless opportunities to play, explore and grow.
I know for some it’s scary to let go of ideas of how yoga should look and what constitutes a proper practice. I also know that as with any new / revolutionary idea, you won’t be able to bring everyone along with you. It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is: As Harriet Tubman said, she could’ve freed so many more slaves — if only they knew they were slaves!
So it is when we give all of our power to doctors, therapists, Big Pharma — forgetting that we are our first responders when we are sick, and if we could practice sensitizing to how we felt, could become the best healers our bodies has ever seen.
Tapping Into Your Intuition
This also means we have to stop drinking the Kool-Aid. A good place to practice this is on the yoga mat. What follows is nothing short of magic. I am always pained when I read posts from people who say they are lost and don’t know how to start yoga. With Strala the starting place is you! Move how it feels good for 5 minutes each day and your world, wellbeing will grow. This I promise.
Read more about Why I’m Hooked on Strala