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    Creating A Square Hole

    I resisted a regular yoga practice for years because of how positively uncomfortable even the most remedial postures (like sitting on the floor) felt. It was analogous to the guy who doesn’t go to the gym because he’s so thin that he’s embarrassed doing ten pound curls, so underdeveloped are his muscles. For such a person, even the most basic of exercises with the lightest of weights feels so excruciatingly difficult and awkward that motivation and discipline can be completely sabotaged by horrific self-judgement. 

    That was me attempting yoga. I would be doing a very simple posture and feeling like a completely defective physical being. “You’ve got to be kidding me”, I would say to myself. “There must be something seriously wrong with me. I can’t even hold or do this elementary posture without hitting a wall almost immediately. I’m hopeless. I’m a lost cause. Why fucking bother?”

    Spending almost three months here at Kripalu has radically shifted my perspective, and, more importantly, my self-compassion. When I stopped crucifying myself, and just accepted where I was at, as uncomfortable as it may have been, everything shifted. This was an internal shift. Nothing on the outside changed. 

    This shift allowed me to put my energy into figuring out the best way for me to practice yoga, instead of putting energy into what a complete boob I was. I realized that I had special needs when it came to yoga, and that I had to treat my body with unlimited kindness, unlimited compassion, and unconditional love. Getting mad at my body for not performing the way I wanted it to did about as much good as getting mad at my self for suffering from the malady of depression. That is: No Fucking Good At All. 

    Once I was in a place of love and acceptance, rather than judgment, I was able to come up with ideas on how to further my practice. I hired a private yoga coach (like, duh, Clint). It never occurred to me to do that before. I mean, when people who are neophytes to the world of weight training want to build their muscles, they often hire a personal trainer. It’s the best thing they can do for themselves. But I was blind to that option because I was in so much self judgment. I was blind to exactly what I needed, even though I already knew exactly what I needed.  

    My first session with my new private yoga coach went like this. “I’m not interested in doing any sort of flow. Currently, I move through the poses with about as much grace as Trump moves his way through the presidency. I also don’t want to focus on strength right now. My muscles are already heavily taxed with resistance training. My triceps scream bloody murder, even a week after I hit them at the gym, just supporting myself in upward dog (which made me realize I had to stop pushing myself so hard when I lifted. So I modified my routines accordingly). I want to focus on alignment, making my body longer and more flexible, and educating myself to the intricacies of the practice. I’ll worry about isometric yoga strength and grace later.”

    What I did was take myself out of “Supposed To” mode and moved into “This Is What I Know I Need Right Now” mode. I was avoiding flow classes at Kripalu like the plague, for good reason. My body was telling me “Not Now”. Instead of sucking it up and doing it anyway, I was actually taking care of myself by not doing any flow classes. When I realized that not doing those classes, classes that I was intuitively resisting, was in fact an act of self love (and not undisciplined avoidance), I could focus on what I did need. Instead of trying to jam a square peg into a round hole, I just created a square hole. What an epiphany. 

    Initially, yoga was a demotivating practice for me because my body was trying to tell me something, but I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t feeling better about what I was doing, I was feeling worse. So I wanted to do it less. When I started listening to the wisdom within, I opened myself up to a constructive, motivating process, as opposed to an unmotivating, destructive, one. 

    In some areas of my life, I’m an expert at listening to myself. In other areas, not so much. But when I cultivate paying attention in one area, I strengthen my ability to hear myself in all areas. Moreover, I particularly develop paying attention to the wisdom in those places where I have traditionally told myself to just shut the fuck up. 

    That’s it. I’m happy with this piece. So now I’m going to shut the fuck up. 


    ©2018 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.

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