This theme continues to pop up in my life over and over again. You can’t give 100% for 100% of the time. You need to create space because space is necessary for creativity, spontaneity, connection, and peace. I read the book "Hell Bent" by Benjamin Lorr, a while back which is a memoir of the author’s journey into the Bikram yoga world. It’s an awesome read, and I highly recommend it. In Hell-Bent, Lorr describes a yoga experience he had while taking a teacher training class from Tony Sanchez. Tony asks Lorr to back off of his practice, not to give 100%. He explains that you cannot give 100% all the time; that 100% is an illusion. Tony is quoted explaining “One hundred or even ninety percent is impossible to maintain. You will become exhausted. Mentally if not physically. Terrified of practicing the yoga you love because it is draining you not replenishing you…But even if you could practice at that intensity-even if you were so strong, you would never become exhausted-it would be undesirable. You can’t make adjustments at your edge. You can’t listen to you body. For regular practice, seventy-five percent is fine-you will never tire out and in the long run you will grow much stronger”. Tony tells Ben many people have a beautiful practice in the Bikram world, and then burn out because of this accepted belief that you should give 100% in every class.
This idea is true not only in the yoga studio, but also for life. If you are too busy, if your day is too full, and if you are giving 100% of your energy, there is nothing left for reflection. There is no time to make adjustments, to improve, learn, transform. Yoga is a practice. Life is a practice. Practices are meant to be practiced everyday…..forever. They aren’t destinations that you arrive to. This is true for health as well. Americans look at health as a destination, a place that you get to, and then you get to relax, but health is really a practice that must be done everyday through lifestyle choices.
If Tony Sanchez is right, then slowing down, backing off, giving a little less each time, and creating space will actually make you stronger in the long run. In the yoga studio, it means you have more space to make adjustments, to improve postures, to focus on your breath and your mind. In life, it means you have more space to reflect, to improve, to make changes in your thinking, or behavior patterns, or the way that you relate to others. Or, the way you relate to yourself.
“You can’t make adjustments at your edge. You can’t listen to your body. For regular practice seventy-five percent is fine-you will never tire out and in the long run you will grow much stronger”