IN the Western approach to bodily health each action creates a reaction in the body (and mind; ‘The Eastern approach is to act without causing a reaction in the body or mind.
At Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre near Marlow, Olympic teams are coached. I practice weight training, and teach Yoga at the Centre. Many of the people who I train with in the gymnasium exhaust themselves by making continuous strenuous effort without a break. As a yoga practitioner, I balance my weight training with a long period of quiet yoga practice. The result is that I come away feeling strong, light and calm.
On one occasion, I was invited by the Sports Council to give a workshop for the Olympic gymnasts. Interestingly, they were much more able than I to get into certain postures, but their eagerness to achieve and master the postures was their shortcoming; they used repetitive force instead of progressive release. They experienced frustration where I would have surrendered the ego. I showed them how to observe, think, release and then to move in coordination with the breath. Something they had not considered in their training.
Most physical exercises are designed to strengthen the body; yoga builds strength in a non-aggressive and non-end-gaining manner. Yoga releases energy through a tensionless process, so that there is no wastage and misuse of precious inner power. It is that inner force that inspires a body to perform a yoga pose and not the extraverted will. Yoga teaches coordination of the movements of all the limbs from which emerges a sense of integrity and integration with the self and the breath. Out of that way of practising (and not training), grace and stamina develop with a resulting and unmistakable feeling of lightness and renewed energy.
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