I recently had the pleasure of taking a yoga class with a talented and devoted yoga instructor who flipped the script and played some very non-traditional music during the final class of a series. She played stuff from Bob Marley, the Eagles, and the Beatles, to name but a few. And during one particular sequence she played a great song by the Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” What a moment…and what a song. During this sequence of postures that involved balancing and “becoming a tree”, the choir reached its dramatic and inspired crescendo. As I stretched my branches to the sky, I was gracefully and powerfully transported to a place I’ve never been before with yoga – purely moved and in a complete, blissful state of supreme happiness. That is honestly the only way to describe it. It nearly left me in a puddle of tears on my mat.
I have come close to this sort of bliss with yoga a few times, but never quite like that. Everything about this class, on this particular night, appealed to me. My rock and roll side, my sense of athleticism, my urge to do the sequencing in a fluid, flowing way. Generally speaking, the instructor treated the class to a choreographed dance…and it was amazing. This is what a gifted teacher does…he or she changes it up sometimes…and this is why people become true devotees of yoga.
I’ve been learning about and loving yoga for quite some time now and I’ve remained disciplined when it comes to exercise in general. It never ceases to amaze me that I can continue to have moments like this. As with anything, sometimes you just go through the motions. But sometimes, these moments of pure delight and total fulfillment ensue with and within your own body. I’ve felt like this a few times after a great run. There is no better high on the planet than this feeling, and this is what we, as athletes, are chasing. THIS IS WHY WE DO IT. Food, sex, drugs, shopping – all those things can bring pleasure…but they are way too easy. The moments I describe can only come from something that is unequivocally EARNED.
To achieve the euphoria of which I speak, you must attend. And by attend, what I mean to say is you must “attend” and “participate” in every way possible in your own life. Physical activity needs to take center stage, because it’s your first line of defense against mood swings, depression, anxiety, poor health, bad choices, and what I like to call “being a blob.” A solid commitment to different types of exercise will get you to that place where you can deflect (much like a super hero) those ailments that are far too common. Let people say you’re an “exercise freak” that you’re a “maniac.” Let them say it. What you need to know is that you’re committed – simple as that. And you also know that you can’t always get what you want. Sometimes you have to will yourself to exercise when you don’t want to. Sometimes you have to say no to the third beer. Sometimes you have to say no to the cheeseburger, even if it’s grass-fed.
Serenity, well-being, joy, satisfaction – it is the human condition to strive for these things. Many people just give up – you see the evidence everywhere. Just look around. People tend to give up completely before they even begin to try. They don’t think they have it in them and they decide, way too early in life, that they can never achieve physical fitness. What they don’t understand, (and what I didn’t understand until recently), is that physical fitness usually leads to mental fitness, which will eventually lead to emotional and spiritual fitness. It leads to relationship fitness, stability, love, and living an authentic, fulfilled life. Honestly, in terms of the “human condition” is there a better way to be? This is what human beings NEED. Why else are we here?
So, I say climb that mountain, don’t wait. Stop waiting for your life, your quality life to come to you. Just begin. You can begin by pulling up The Rolling Stones on your iPod. Just listen.
As I try to put more distance between what I like to call “that other life” (or the life I had before I put my health first, lost the weight and became fit), and the one I’m living now, I find that moments like the one I experienced at that yoga class recently are happening more frequently. I am finding joy around every corner. Things aren’t perfect of course, but these days I’m living with a happy heart, a happy soul, and a happy body. I know that I can’t always get what I want, but if I try sometimes…I usually find…I get what I need.