This post is dedicated to the practice of yoga, and all those who share in body physical experiences whether on the mat, in competition, or in life.
the Physical Element
The 6 Physical Attributes
Mobility / Flexibility
Speed / Power
Strength / Stability
Look no further than your body. It holds all the wisdom you’ll ever need. It is your anchor to reality and the access point to your potential. It already knows every metric that your little device is telling you. Stop fighting it, judging it, analyzing it, and ignoring it. By all means challenge it, then get out of its way, and see what it can do.
I’ve spent most of my life training my body- pushing it, listening to it, acknowledging its thresholds, developing its skills, and teaching it to push beyond limits. My body, and life, always had a clear sense of purpose - discover what was possible in the sport of field hockey, and that meant becoming very aware of my in body experience. It meant being fully alive, as messy and uncomfortable as that aliveness became.
Then, last October, I retired from the USA National Team and over the next 6 months, I slowly lost connection with myself. The disconnect began in my body. I stopped moving purposefully. I stumbled around without conviction, curiosity or appreciation for the incredible mechanism of movement happening everyday.
Call it a fog. I was going through the motions of poses, conversations and daily activities. Smells were dull. Tastes were bland. Pain was nothing but a chronic ache. Sound was annoying. Touch had no sensation. Breathing was superficial. I was here, but not really. Sure, I did yoga. I ran. I hiked. I did tons of things. Yes had become my default response to every question. I spent so much time in my car commuting - going here, there, and everywhere which in the end left me nowhere at all except really far away from myself. I was separate from everything and everyone, especially my own physical body.
All experience and learning happens in the body. That is where learning begins, and where it ends. It is the physical reality of you. If you want to change something in your life, and I mean anything - a relationship, career, thought pattern, lifestyle - start with your body. Start by getting still and listening to it. Let yourself feel physical sensation. Feel your heart beating - in your chest, your palms, your belly, your ears. Feel the temperature of your skin. Tense every muscle in your body, feel the tension. Stop squeezing your muscles and feel the difference.
Get out of the idea of your body, and actually into your body. Challenge it, and I mean really challenge it, and see how it responds. Feel whatever you feel, and just as much, feel whatever you don't feel - feel the numbness. Listen for openings, and listen for limits, than move beyond them both. Don't think about the challenge, just do it, explore what is real and possible in your body.
Once you complete the challenge, get curious about your physical experience. Reflect on it. When working with my own body, and exploring its physical movement patterns, I identified 6 critical attributes to help my personal understanding. Those attributes became the basis of the Physical Element of the Praxis Paradigm - skill, mobility, power, strength, agility, and endurance.
6 physical attributes
TECHNICAL SKILL a particular set of skills relating to the efficient execution or performance of a task or craft
MOBILITY / FLEXIBILITY ability to move freely and easily, especially through the joints
STRENGTH / STABILITY - ability to hold weight, relates to the stacking of your bones
POWER / SPEED - ability to exert force and accelerate an object through space, relates to muscle action
AGILITY - ability to change direction, relates to the balance of opposing forces
ENDURANCE - ability to endure arduous tasks for a long period of time, relates to physical stamina and steadiness of breath (aerobic capacity)
Get in your body
- Sit or Stand Still
- Feel What You Feel and What You Don't
- Set a Physical Challenge
- Perform the Challenge
- Feel What You Feel and What You Don't
- Complete the Challenge
- Get Still - feel what you feel
- Assess your experience of the 6 Physical Attributes
- Begin again
As you reflect, ask yourself these questions. How does your body move? What patterns has it developed? How do those patterns impact performance? What do they make possible, and what possibility do they prevent? Why were they necessary to develop? Are they still necessary?
Can you develop new movement patterns?
Yes, you can. If you are willing to. It takes work, deliberate action, and ruthless self-awareness. So get clear on what patterns exist, and what physical attributes you want to develop, and in every moment, no matter how uncomfortable, choose what you want to develop.
Your body is the gateway to life. Get to know it. Because if you want to connect with other people or with some higher power and purpose, you must first and foremost connect with your own natural body.
It is the door. Open it.
Discover Within, Expand Beyond,