Yoga

Expanding our Internal Rhythm Through Yoga

October 18, 2013

Terri SchneiderSince I was a kid I’ve been drawn to the intimate personal connection we can generate through movement. This internal, familiar, yet subconscious rhythm is part of what gets us up in the morning for that early morning run, a paddle on calm seas, or a pedal through the woods on our mountain bike. We plug into ourselves to set up our day. I used to think I could only find this rhythm while moving—until I started doing Iyengar yoga back in the late 80’s. And though I still prefer moving to holding a pose, I now know that regularly standing still makes me feel even more in tune while in forward motion.

Though I didn’t initiate a regular yoga practice until my late 20’s as a triathlete, I’m convinced I was ‘practicing’ since I was a  kid of 10. During breaks from the Jr. Lifeguard program I used to love to take a surf board out past the surf line and just lay on it. I’d close my eyes and replicate what I didn’t know then was savasana while feeling the natural swell of the ocean rise and fall, as if it were breathing underneath me.

But until I was almost 30 I only sought that type of internal connection through movement and nature: The natural dance of my feet on a trail, the consistent check-in with each body part as I sliced through the water in a swim workout, or the way the world would drop away as I singularly focused on sending power to the drive train of my bicycle. I had no interest in doing a movement form of yoga, because I already moved enough, and static stretching was doing a fine job. Wasn’t it? What could yoga do that I didn’t already have?

I got the answer when attempting my first triangle pose.

I happened upon a yoga teacher who was precision oriented, had a deadpan personality, and was challenging. I affectionately (and secretly!) labeled her “The Yoga Nazi.” She was perfect.

She enticed me to focus on that first triangle pose in the same way I was required to dig down into my psyche the last five miles of an Ironman triathlon. She caused me to take on warrior pose with the same focus as intimately engaging in drills in the pool. I would stand in one position, and connect internally with the same rhythm I had mastered while powering my bike into a headwind on the Kona coast.

The result of holding still regularly each week was that I became more open and connected to moving forward for really long periods of time.

Even today, I prefer to hold yoga poses rather than move through them, and though many a friend have tried to talk me into hot yoga, I’m not interested in getting sweaty in my yoga practice. I already do that. A lot. I don’t want music, drums, or incense. I just want to silently hold still because it’s then that I can feel the multitude of internal rhythms happening while doing a downward facing dog.

And today this is still the same dynamic connection that my core has to the ocean when it powers my kayak blade. Or the way my feet intuitively find the perfect spots to touch down on a familiar trail when I forget I’m a fragile human in the woods.

Or even the way I can plant my feet and patiently relax while standing in line at the grocery store.

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8 Comments

  • Reply Ellen October 19, 2013 at 8:50 am

    I related to Terri! I, too, am not into classroom yoga. Keeping a stretch brought me to better endurance when riding my bike and better understanding of daily life. There is an inner strength and awareness that is revealed while holding on longer to each pose. Thanks, Terri for sharing!

  • Reply Terri Schneider October 19, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Thank you Ellen for sharing. Yes, awareness is the key word. Keep enjoying that in your riding!

  • Reply Carly October 19, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Ahhh you never forget that first coach/yogi who pushes you to the place you didn’t know existed….thanks for sharing! Starting a home yoga practice this week to complement my tri training-this post is perfectly timed, thank you!!

  • Reply Terri Schneider October 20, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Carly – great to hear! I to do a home yoga practice. And I very much enjoy the solitude while doing yoga. Enjoy!
    Terri

  • Reply Paula October 24, 2013 at 5:22 am

    Terri,
    Great post! You had me at “Since I was a kid”. I have always been ‘movement based’ (my mother will attest), and have found Yoga to be the perfect compliment. I love a good ‘flow’ class but find myself ‘flowing’ slower, in a way that reflects my internal need for both movement and connection. Thanks for such a thoughtful post! 🙂

  • Reply Terri Schneider October 24, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Paula – I love your comment – “find myself flowing slower’. I can relate to that for sure. I find the slower movement more rewarding and fruitful. Thanks for sharing!
    Terri

  • Reply Roxanne December 1, 2013 at 1:50 am

    Terri, that is a great story you shared! Although I’m not into other physical sports, a dedicated Yogi for life since my first class 8 years ago, with 2 years off due to illness, my first Guru had me addicted to the practice and everything psychological that went with it. I began having this intense desire to become an instructor from my first instructor. It’s amazing the impact that a single experience can have on you. Luckily, I finally got to a place in my life where I could begin Yoga Teacher Training. I’m learning so much intense information about the practice, and myself I had no idea how deep Yoga goes beyond practice and self awareness. Yoga is truly a gift, and I’m looking forward to being able to share it with everyone. I’m glad you shared your terrific story! Keep up the wonderful achievements 🙂

  • Reply Terri Schneider December 1, 2013 at 4:00 am

    Roxanne
    So glad to hear you have fully integrated Yoga into your life in such a positive manner. Keep giving yourself the amazing gift!
    Terri

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