I like to think it is. Restorative yoga appeals to my inner teenage rebel with its counter-culture message, which is essentially this: *"there is nothing you can add to yourself to make you more complete." If we actually took this idea to heart, the shape of our lives (not to mention the economy!) would look very different.
The predominant cultural messaging we live with is that we need MORE - to do more, to get more or to be more - more motivated, creative successful, wealthy, thin, beautiful, fit, healthy, etc. Even the self-help section of the bookstore carries the subliminal message that somehow, whoever we are, we are not enough.
Instead of endlessly striving for more, Restorative practice asks us to find comfort and contentment with who we are right now. Restorative suggests that we lie down, look inside ourselves, disengage from that external messaging and engage with ourselves for long enough to notice that we ARE enough just as we are.
*I'm going to credit this quote to the wonderful teacher, Shivanand Thomas Amelio, although I could be wrong about that.
“Do you guys want it weird or perfect!?” That’s the question with which Toni Bergins* opened her Movement and Music workshop at Kripalu last week. The group shouted back in one voice: ‘WEEEEIIIIRRRRRD!”. “Good” said Toni, “because I don’t do perfect”.
Last week I was at Kripalu for a program on “Designing and Leading Transformational Workshops” and my 5 day stay became a sort of meditation on weirdness and perfection.
What I came to realize is that the idea of wanting/needing to be perfect is really unhelpful in the context of transformational work – as leader or learner. Sometimes you simply have to give yourself space to get messy, follow a tangent or fail really fantastically in order to find a nugget. Sometimes the best learning experiences are weird, unplanned and uncomfortable.
Here are some of my reflections on why weird trumps perfect in the world of transformational work:
1) If you’re concerned with doing everything perfectly, you’re less likely to allow yourself to risk failing. And if you’re not willing to step out of your comfort zone, experiment and try untested waters, then how will you grow and change? Answer: you won’t.
2) ‘Perfection’ is a pretty cruel standard to impose upon yourself and others because it’s impossible to meet. If you choose not to accept anything less than perfection, you set yourself up for failure. You will NEVER measure up to an impossible standard. If you are already dealing with a tiny voice in your head that tells you ‘you’re not good enough’ the need to be perfect will serve to reinforce that voice. Not helpful.
3) In the quest to seem perfect, we end up hiding our authenticity and our humanity – and rob ourselves of the opportunity to create deep connection with others. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we allow others to ‘see’ us and ‘be’ with us as we are. ‘Being real’ allows us to forge powerful connections in a way that ‘being perfect’ does not. Can you relate to people that seem too perfect? Me neither.
4) What makes you weird/unique/special probably rolls into your purpose - the contribution that you and you alone can make to this world. Have you ever watched someone stand powerfully in their own brand of weird? It is truly a delight! Toni Bergins is a shining example of what happens when you stake your territory and let your freak flag fly – your tribe gathers around the flag!
I think we can agree that we all do weird really well and we all fail horribly at perfect. So, what if we just resign ourselves to this fact, name and claim our ‘imperfections’ (I call them my ‘adorable quirks’) and learn to celebrate them? Maybe we could set a powerful example for others about self-acceptance. Maybe we could help those that are busy trying to hide their imperfections to see that ‘getting real’ has more value than ‘getting perfect’.
My best teachers** transform me as a person by offering up challenging work that forces me to wrestle with my insecurities (my inner voice that tells me I’m not good enough) and they push me to do things that are waaaaay out of my comfort zone. In these trainings, I wrestle with my insecurities and, in the end, I triumph over them. Those trainings feel far from perfect. They have many awful moments of awkwardness, uncertainty, self-doubt, and discomfort - but inevitably lead me to discover that I am capable of way more than I give myself credit for. As a result, I leave the training with the courage to take on new challenges, take risks, and get more creative in my work when I return home.
The process of learning and growing often feels imperfect. So, upon deeper reflection, in answer to Toni’s question: “Do you guys want it weird or perfect?” I have to say that I don’t think the two ideas are mutually exclusive. Transformational work is usually perfectly weird – and weirdly perfect.
* Toni Bergins is the Creator of Journey Dance™. I would describe her weird and wonderful work as Shamanic Dance Therapy. My words.
**Jill Miller, creator of Yoga Tune Up®. Life changing, mind-bending, body altering work.
Ken Nelson, Lesli Lang. De-mystification of how to create a safe container for transformational work.
As some of you know, I embarked on a much-needed, month-long happiness challenge for my business last month. The challenge was led by the very smart and insightful Kellie Adkins, who helped me to get very clear about what I'm about as a business and - much to my astonishment - to even ENJOY business planning. It probably helped considerably that the business planning model we worked with felt more like a creative writing/art project. Regardless, I've finally found a way to work that works for me! My final assignment: to come up with a list of 10 Guidelines for Vibrant Flourishing in Life and Business. Here it is:
1 Cultivate good habits. Your daily habits shape your body, your mind and your life, so cultivate habits that feed health and happiness.
2 Operate from a clear sense of purpose. Know what matters to you and be prepared to do what it takes to create it.
3. Cultivate focus. There's always something to take attention away from what matters.
4. Create first; edit later.
5. Make time in your schedule for play, wild imaginings and discovery. Learn, create or discover something new each day.
6. Have a plan. Be prepared to ditch it.
7. Invest in yourself (time, money, education, rest, fitness, health). Plan to reach your full potential on every front!
8. Connect. Connection is everything.
9. Create opportunities for your success and for the success of others. Create a win-win-win whenever you can!
10. When deciding what to do, ask yourself “Do I want to live in a world where …?” If the answer is yes, then do it!
*Note: Yeah, I use a lot of exclamation marks. 'Cause I'm excitable!!!!!!!
Part I: Do Your Hips Snap?
They shouldn’t. Allow me to begin by apologizing to every yoga student to whom I’ve ever said “if it makes a snapping sound and it doesn’t hurt, it’s probably okay”. I know better now and I’d like to officially retract that statement. The fact that your hip is snapping without pain today doesn’t mean you’re not setting yourself up for injury in the future.
It turns out that the cause of ‘Snapping Hip’ (that is actually a technical term) is usually one of three things – and NONE of them are okay:
1) Your IT band (a long, thick band of connective tissue that runs down your lateral hip and thigh, crossing both your knee and hip joints) is snapping over a bony protrusion. This is also known as external snapping hip.
2) Your iliopsoas tendon (in your front hip crease) is catching on a bony prominence. This is known as internal snapping hip.
In either of the above cases, the snapping sound you hear is the sound of your tendon being plucked by a bony prominence similar to the sound it makes when you pluck a tight elastic band with your finger! That snapping sound is a giant red flag. Your tendons should glide easily and soundlessly over the surrounding bony prominences. The strumming sound occurs because the soft tissues of your hip are experiencing friction. Continued friction will lead you down the path to inflammation and conditions that end in “-itis”. An “-itis” (meaning inflammation) is painful and unpleasant – like hip bursitis (which can be created by the IT band snapping) or hip tendonitis (in the case of your snapping iliopsoas tendon). So, you see, allowing your hip snap to continue is really NOT OKAY.
Another possibility is…
3) You have a labral tear, meaning that there is a loose flap of cartilage catching within your hip joint. You need to see a doctor for this.
If your snapping hip is caused by an overly tight IT band or iliopsoas, it is within your powers to re-set the level of tension in these tissues using a combination of massage, stretch and strengthening work so that your hip can once more move safely, silently and smoothly.
Also, stop doing whatever it is that makes your hip snap.
Want to learn more? Join me for Harmony from Hips to Heels, a Yoga Tune Up® workshop about how to get all of the joints and tissues of your lower limbs to play nicely with each other.
Alignment Matters by Katy Bowman
Snapping Hip Syndrome by Jonathan Cluett, M.D.