Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga is a book by yogi Rolf Gates (with the help of Katrina Kennison). Gates is a former US Airborne Ranger and recovered alcoholic. He teaches classes at studios all over the world and appears more regularly in Santa Cruz where he lives with his wife and two kids.
We have Meditations from the Mat in the studio and our teachers will often read from it at the end of class while we’re in savasana. I’ll also pick it up and flip through it whenever I arrive early and don’t feel the need to do any extra stretching before we get started.
It’s a wonderful book and Gates’ story is truly inspiring. Today, in flipping through it before class, I came across a passage (on Day 64, to be exact) that really struck me:
“I had exercised to win competitions and I’d ironed my uniforms to pass military inspections, but I had never thought of these activities as a means of taking care of myself… Our body is the home of our spirit. It is the means by which we enact our beliefs. Therefore, the maintenance of the body is a spiritual duty, an act of love not only toward ourselves but toward all humanity.”
How poignant is that? Maintenance of the body is an act of love. Think about that.
Take care of your body. You only get one.
I always find it interesting how well lessons learned on the mat can be applied to life outside the yoga studio. Today in ardha chandrasana I noticed that my palms were firmly pressed together above my head, as they should be. It’s a very simple task but when I first started I couldn’t get my palms to touch while still keeping my arms perfectly straight behind my ears with my shoulders down. I considered it a human impossibility for my body. Same with lowered boat or ship when you drop your body down so that your shoulders are lifted off the ground and feet are just inches above the floor. I considered that to be humanly impossible as well. For me, anyway.
As it turns out, I just wasn’t strong enough or flexible enough to make it possible. Over time and with much practice, my body has finally reached a point where those impossibilities are just another move. In fact, I didn’t even notice that I had mastered them. It just happened with practice.
I wonder how many other things in my life I consider to be impossible that are really just out of reach because I’m not quite strong enough or flexible enough. What kind of things could you accomplish with a little more time and patience–if you were just a little bit stronger mentally and emotionally, if you were a little bit more flexible with your time and your expectations.
I think that if you’re not in love, maybe you’re heart isn’t strong enough yet. If you can’t find a job, maybe you’re not being flexible and opening yourself to all the options. Strength and flexibility. Give it time. It’ll happen.