Saturday, April 6, 2013

Silence Means You Agree

As I started my introduction to the yoga class, I mentioned today was going to be handstand and headstand day with a number of animal poses involving lifting our feet off the ground.  The room was silent. I could imagine what was going on in their heads.  "Is she really serious?", "what have I gotten myself into today?", "that sounds like fun!". Probably more of the former and less of the latter inner chatter.

As I started my cycle class I mentioned that we were going to start on a fifteen minute hill climb and then alternate every other flat ride song as a race paced top heart rate zone rush.  Again, the room was silent. Again, I could imagine what was going on in their heads. "Is she really serious?", "what have I gotten myself into today?", "that sounds like fun!". Again, probably more of the former and less of the latter inner chatter. 

Was I serious? - yes very much so in both classes.  And it turns out, they really had a good time in both instances.  But I do playfully warn them if they don't speak up I am assuming they are thrilled with the plan.  And they usually don't speak up. And I usually go ahead with my plan - devious as it can be. 

I found this to be true in many instances outside of the fitness world.  At work in the corporate environment there were numerous occasions in which I wasn't totally in agreement with the plan to move ahead but I also wasn't totally comfortable speaking up.  They certainly weren't life or death situations and no lives or equipment were on the line. I would certainly speak up then. But I quickly found out if you didn't speak up when the issue was addressed, they assumed agreement and moved forward.  Chalk it off to youth or naïveté, it is a lesson worth learning and worth learning quickly. 

When did you wish you had spoken up instead of letting silence mean you agreed?  I look forward to your stories.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Breathe - Just Breathe

A group of friends signed up for a 5 K race called the Neon Splash Dash.  All of the proceeds from the race were for a charitable organization called Red, White and Blue that assists veterans and their families - a great cause. The race started at 8:00 pm. Now that is my kind of race.  Seven or eight o'clock in the morning always seemed like such a painful time to wake up and run around like crazy for a night owl.  Finally, sensible race organizers, starting a race at a time that matches my energy level - when I am fully awake and engaged in the day and ready to roll. 

The race organizers encouraged white t-shirts so that the neon paint that would be sprayed on us during the race would show up under the black lights the best.  Costumes were also encouraged with tutus being the design of choice but my group opted out of the contest this time. I am sure I can motivate some of them to partake next year - hehe - always an optimist.  I planned to run the entire race, after all, 5 K doesn't seem that far.  The others already knew that walking was their preferred method of making it across the finish line.  The race was packed with close to 10,000 runners decorated with all varieties of neon and flashing and glow in the dark gadgets.  It was cool - very cool.  It took some time for the waves of runners/walkers to move forward so that we finally reached the starting line. Then - we were off! 

I started off at a slow shuffle as hundreds of us made it up the hill and across the bridge. It finally thinned out enough so that I was able to start a nice run dodging back and forth between walkers.  I found a clear spot and reached a rhythmic pace with what I thought were good breathing techniques.  About ten minutes later I had to slow down to ease a mild pain in my side - most likely from not breathing correctly. Had it really been that long since I had raced that I forgot how to breathe?  Yes.  I focused on correcting my breath work and picked up the pace again.  Just about to cross the finish line, I stopped and walked over to the side to keep an eye out for my walking friends so that we could cross the finish line together.  A group of familiar faces splattered with paint strolled by a while later and I joined them for the final steps across the finish line with smiles on all our faces.

It doesn't matter how good your run, walk, arm swinging or shuffle looks - it's the breath underneath it all that makes it successful.

In yoga I am always reminding the students to breathe. "It doesn't matter what your pose looks like - if you are breathing you are still doing yoga. If the breath isn't right - the pose won't be."

Whether you are about to stand up and speak to a crowd - or have a difficult conversation with someone - use your breath to relax and get in the right frame of mind - and the rest will be easy.