In Yoga circles work has become a nasty word, synonymous with over doing it, or pushing past your limits. I don’t advocate for either of those. I advocate for the type of hard work that will keep you healthy for a long time. My mother is 96 and still going. She still exercises and is basically healthy. She has always worked hard. She took the stairs instead of the elevator no matter how many floors she was climbing. She always said “I can get there faster using my feet.” She made all her children walk everywhere. It drove me crazy when I was young. Now it’s fashionable.
Now, I love to work. Good old-fashioned, down to earth, work. It’s what makes me happy. I love the joy of sitting back at the end of a job, and sighing with pleasure at a job well done. I get great strength from feeling my muscles respond to my requests to work harder. To keep pushing and don’t give up. I learn constantly by working. How do my body and mind respond to pressure? What are my current limits and what it will take to move past them? What motivates me to be healthy and respect my body?
I think the big concern over the word work is twofold;
- The fact that most people sit for their jobs and get no exercise at all. The word “work” scares them away from exercise. It represents difficulty and stress; things they already experience in abundance.
- Extreme sports have taken over a large part of the fitness arena. These sports are not good for long-term health and trying to keep participants from overworking is a challenge.
Keeping in mind a very basic yoga principle will help eliminate the under-or over-work situation that turns work into a nasty word. The principle is conscious connection. Conscious connection is that connection between your mind and body or your little ego with your higher spiritual self. It can sound kind of heady but basically it is balance, paying attention to what your spirit is telling you. Staying present in all of your activities. Before you choose to exercise or work in the yard listen to your spirit. What does it say? “You still haven’t healed from that broken ankle. You should take a walk and work out with weights instead.” Or “you did very well in yoga class the last three times. You could stand to try a level 2 class.”
In all cases, only you can truly measure how much work is too much or too little work. You know if your muscles are working hard or if your joints are really painful. You realize what brings you fulfillment and a feeling of success. No one else does. I encourage you to listen to your spirit, start where you are and try.
May your day be full of peace,