• Tracey L. Kelley

Are You Strong Enough to Do Yoga?

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

Right away, we could talk about the importance of arm strength for holding poses such as Four-Limbed Staff Pose, or Chaturanga Dandasana; and why a solid core and stable thighs benefits Warrior III, or Virabhadrasana III . And most certainly, it's important to work toward these poses to have a well-rounded practice. However, what I'd really to talk about is strength as pluck. How is pluck usually defined?

"Spirited and determined courage."

As a teacher, I've heard every "dog ate my homework!" excuse for not practicing. I mean, every single one. I smile and nod. Because as a practitioner, I've used many of them as well. "I ate/drank badly last night, so practicing today is pointless." "I don't have time to practice." "I'm just too tired to practice." "It's too far to drive." "I'm not flexible enough." "I don't look like other people, so what's the point?" "I'd just rather sit on the couch, watch TV, and relax." "When I lose a little weight, I'll practice." "My work schedule doesn't allow me to practice yoga." "I can't do yoga because my dogs bother me/need watching/need surgery, etc...." "I can't seem to get over this injury/illness, so there's no point doing yoga." "I don't do/can't do what other people in class do, so why bother." "I just have too many things going on right now." "When my kids aren't doing XYZ, I'll practice then." "I feel like a fraud if I practice yoga." "It seems too hard--I thought yoga wasn't exercise/was supposed to be easy?" "I'm not sleeping well, so I can't do yoga." And so on. And yet...when someone moves beyond the excuses, gets on the mat, and reaches a point of stillness, he or she almost always feels better, especially if the session was tailored to work with the energy of the excuse(s) and push it(them) away. Certain patterns of thinking have a way of etching grooves into our brains, and obstacles both real and imagined appear repeatedly until we take the needle out of that particular groove. Some of these grooves were embedded by other people; some grooves become coping mechanisms; others develop because of one simple emotion:

Fear. As crazy as it sounds, fear of effort is the primary, subconscious excuse for why many people find reasons not to practice. Because effort implies change--and what happens after that? What if I fail? What if I don't do it right? What if I can't do other things in my life because I do yoga? Who am I if I do yoga? This is where pluck comes in. You need pluck to bump the needle out of the excuses grooves and see reality for how it really is. A yoga practice, by and large, will not hurt you--it makes you feel better. A yoga practice takes as much time as you're willing to give it. A yoga practice can be as easy or as hard as you like. A yoga practice is accessible regardless of age, weight, flexibility, or fitness level. And so on. Pluck requires you to recognize the true courage you have to design your life. If you decide yoga is part of your life, then *poof*! Yoga is in your life! Pluck asks that you set aside the excuses on the mat just to see what's available to you in that moment, and slightly beyond. Pluck confirms that you're willing to embrace change for the opportunity to see what else you're capable of becoming. Spirited and determined, maybe?

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