Monday, September 14, 2009

From External to Internal

For years I have been an 'athlete' competing in a number of sports and events as well doing all the training behind what it takes to maximize my physical human performance. Through those years I have 'accomplished' many awesome personal and team oriented feats, here is a small sample

Squat 440
Deadlift 550
Bench Press 385 (425 on Smith bench)
Beast Press, Pistol, Snatch, TGU, Pull-up
Scored touchdowns, tries, baskets, runs and even one games with my performance
Ran a 4.5 40
Ran a 10.7 100
Ran a half marathon in 1:39
Spent 5 seasons as a competitive adventure racer, winning a race in our category and coming in 2nd for the season
Won a league championship

So I think you get the point, I have had a lot of really cool experiences in the world of sport and physical fitness. During this time I studied, observed, practiced the art and science of living, human performance, human movement, philosophy, psychology, etc. and through it all I found myself looking for more.

In the recent years in an effort to build and extend my ability to reach a larger community I started practicing yoga in addition to all my other activities. When I first started yoga I did not understand what yoga was and what and how influencial it would be on my physical progression. As my practice grew and became more regular I noticed I recovered faster, moved better, felt better and became stronger. And I was asking myself how I am I doing less in the weight room, out in nature but still performing beyond where I was, setting more PR's?

The obvious answer was my deeper understanding of training principles, program design and just years of building up. And these are true indeed. But what I began to understand sometime ago (within the last year) that my yoga practice and more important my meditation practice was really changing the course of my life and more than just physically. Because of this awareness I began to spend more time studying and more importantly practicing, to the point where my main and daily practice of my art and science of living became my yoga and meditation practice. And what I also observed was that the 'yogi's' I was meeting who had a simliar approach were people that seemed to be in a place closer to what I was seeking, that 'something more' place.

So, I just went and spent 2 weeks teaching, practicing and truly observing and reflecting/meditating on 'Yoga' During this time I lifted no weights, did no running, etc. and I went with intention of doing push-ups, bodyweight squats, pull-ups and some running. But, I decided I would just 'give my body a break' and just focus on yoga.

Now, I am back and finding that my body, my yoga meditation and breathing practice and my state of being have evolved, transformed, changed. My yoga postures (asanas) are deeper, more open and that has created a gateway for my lungs to open therefore deepening my breathing practice and making the poses 'easier' and my strength in the poses stronger and therefore the chitta, which is the mind distracting thoughts, are quiet and if anything I am more present in my pose/practice.

What I realize is that I am shifting from a focus on the external strength and demonstration of stuff and moving within, to the inside and strength that comes from that 'place'. The thing is by doing this my body is opening, my mind is free, my heart beats smoothly and with gentle ease, and spirit is grounded and my soul has found its true mate, the love that is me for I am love and you are as well.

Strength, which is a broad based term is from the inside and it will manifest in expression which is what people see and that comes in the form of external expression but when people are present and conscious with you they see it is coming from the inside, out.

Now, when I do movements like kettlebells and bodyweight 'strength' stuff I do so because I am exploring the human body, the internal art of the movement associated with these actions/devices. However, I have no attachment to the outcomes, the numbers, the weight used, the this that or another. What I am curious of is how this is developing me and enabling me to be a better student, coach, teacher, human.

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