The other day in an acroyoga workshop, I was teaching how to connect core, shoulders and hands to generate more power in a push action. Beside a better performance of a push-up, I noticed something else, that i want to share with you in this post.
That same day I was also listening to an interview with Paul Linden. Paul is a senior Aikido instructor and specialist in body/movement awareness education.
He states that in stressed situations we tend to contract or collapse our attention, breath, posture, and movement.
In situations where we need to be strong, we become week. Our rational mind is hijacked by feeling or fear, anger, anxiety, shock…
He continued that if we, instead of contraction and collapse, choose expansiveness and awareness we can respond in more harmonious and constructive way. By taking an open and expansive posture, our mindset changes and we can decide more freely how to react.
This made me think about the change I saw in the workshop.
The first push up students have performed was hard and strained for most of them. They weren’t very athletic, and the idea of push up was intimidating. They doubted themselves if they can do it. They were collapsing in the shoulders and core, contracting breath and lacking the overall body awareness.
Then I showed them how to stabilize the shoulders and core. They learned how to get in touch with a whole body and expand it. The second push up was much lighter and harmonious. Not only they felt more power, but they also suddenly became more confident and decisive.
Body equals mind and vice versa
Learning new physically demanding moves – in partner practice, like acroyoga, even more prominent – can invoke the same distress response as in stressful everyday situations. If we confront this kind of situations mindlessly we will most often fight, flight or freeze. Which of these three strategyes we use depends on our personality, but all are automatic, unconsious reactions.
But if we first regulate our state we can see a bigger picture and can make a smarter move. Take a grounding, spacious, and relaxed stance to center yourself. This state is what Paul calls the embodiment of power and love. We become compassionate warriors. Standing for ourselves without doing harm for others or yourself.
Body and mind are not two separate things. They are one entirety, intertwining, and co-creating the way how we interac with the world. When we start to understand this and use it as one, we can get the most out of it. Bodymind becomes one of the most powerful tools for life. We become embodied!
Every physical practice, whether acroyoga or handstands or weight lifting or can be mindful and embodied. If you bring your awareness to this few times during the practice you can truly reduce your stress levels and become more equipped for the next challenges.
Next time when in the gym or in acro class ask yourself, where can I be more relaxed, where can I be stronger? How does it feel when I embody power?