Yoga: Makes quick work of fallen leaves

This week I’m starting up with a new yoga client, and our focus for her is on a stronger core for better balance. A strong core becomes really necessary as we age, partly because we become more prone to falls so we need a strong core to support the occasional whoopsy-do.

When I’m taking on a new yoga client it’s partly about giving them moves to do; shapes to make with their bodies which will ultimately accomplish the physical strength and symmetry that they desire. But it’s also partly about the spirit of the thing, and the flavor of the intention. The words you use and the stories you tell them are the things that help them really stick with it. The real life meaning behind why they hired you.

For example: yes, you definitely want a strong core because a strong core is good. Great. If this is as far as you go with it, it’s really hard to stay motivated when it’s 35 degrees and dark out at 6:30am when Pilates starts. But what if I told you that a strong core is where it’s at for not hyper-extending your knee and falling cartoon-style on your ass when you slip on a leaf? Real life meaning can be a great motivator.

So this morning I was thinking about this client and the strong core she’s about to have and how we’re going to get her there, when my thoughts turned to an old student of mine. He was a grumpy Gus. He’d show up to every single one of my noon yoga classes at the gym, and he was not pleased to be doing so. He wasn’t really a jerk, never rude at all, just extremely sarcastic and abrasive. It was clear his attendance in my class was mandatory and that he had not been the one to mandate it.

He practiced with me for a couple of years, and one day he showed up a couple of minutes early to class. He pulled me aside and told me he had thought of me the day before when he slipped on a leaf and all he did was wobble. He realized the years of yoga had done that, gave him that ever so slight helping hand.

Turns out I was right, his wife had been making him take my class. Before he started yoga he had taken a very bad spill on some ice right outside his house. At the time of the fall he was in poor physical condition and it really scared his wife… the repercussions from the fall didn’t need to be so severe… so in an effort to appease her, he agreed to do something about the Cheetos and the Netflix marathons. But he wasn’t happy about it.

Until, that is, he actually felt the effects of the work he’d done in his own body. He felt his own internal strength and alignment, he felt his own power. I’m so glad he shared a-ha moment with me! It was a simple thing, a thing that happens to a lot of us daily, but it was made memorable for him by some struggles that I had sensed he was having but didn’t know for sure.

From that day on he was still a grump but it turns out that’s just a large part of who he is. 🙂 It was the smile in his eyes that was new to me, a sense of partnership that wasn’t there before. He finally saw what we were doing and had gotten on board with it.

My anatomy teacher used to say: “Yoga is slow medicine but it’s very effective medicine”, and I know that to be quite true.

*****

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