Yoga and Action

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by Rebecca Rose Goetz, MPH

It takes more than just knowing to spark a thought or an idea to life. Action takes courage and trust.

by Rebecca Rose Goetz, MPH

 


 

“All know the way; few actually walk it.”
-Bodhidharma


I
show my high school health students a documentary on addiction each year. In the film, there is a young woman who has been in and out of treatment 12 times in eight years. She is talking about her experience of rehab, and she says that she knows all about rehab and how it works. She even says that she could run a rehab.

Every time I hear her say that, it evokes something in me. I can’t help but question, yet at the same time completely understand, how this is possible. She knows what to do, yet she continues to relapse over and over again. At first glance, it seems contradictory for someone to know how to do something and not be able to actually do it. But this divide is so ever-present in most of our lives that when we see such an extreme example, like in the case of this young woman, it’s easy to point our finger and say “what’s the matter with you? If you know what to do, then do it!” without really seeing that we all do this, all the time.

There exists in us a separation between knowing and doing, between the thought and the action. And it is this separation that often leads to feelings of guilt, shame and even failure. We feel bad about the “coulda, woulda, shouldas” that we never did, and most of the time it’s our own apprehension that stops us from turning the thought into action.

I know if I went for a walk I would feel better. I know if I ate healthier I’d have more energy. I know if I tell him/her how I feel that we’d have a more open andhonest relationship. I know that if I did “this” then “that” would happen. Yet a lot of times we don’t do “this”. The couch cushions are more worn than the soles of our shoes. There are more processed, low-nutrient foods in our kitchen than there are natural, nutritious ones. And there are secrets and lies instead of forthcoming emotions in our relationships. This separation between knowing and doing exists in virtually every aspect of our life.

It takes more than just knowing to spark a thought or an idea to life. Action takes courage and trust. Hesitation undermines action because it gives us time to doubt. The longer you wait to do something, the harder it seems. It grows into a seemingly insurmountable task. The more difficult it seems, the more it gets pushed back for another day, another time.


It is not enough to just know. We must do. Doing is living.

 

 

When I teach a yoga class, I encourage my students to go into a pose without hesitating. Go. Go into the posture. Don’t think, don’t wait, just go. There is a freedom in that kind of action, when you know it’s good, and you go. It goes beyond instinct and intellect, into the realm of intuition. You know it to be so, so you make it so. That’s what yoga asanas (poses/postures) are all about. The unity of knowing and doing.

Yoga means to yoke, to bring together, to unite. This is often expressed through the unity of breath and body, body and mind, mind and spirit. Yet often overlooked is this unity of knowing and doing. Yoga is a practice of action, and action is not merely movement. Action has a much deeper intent than movement alone. The practice of yoga, is just that, a practice. We practice how to unite on the mat, how to close the gap between knowing and doing, and how to bring that practice to life off of the mat. Yoga is a practice of tapping into your own intuition and bringing your intuition to life through action.

When you know what to do and when to do it, life starts to flow. Things start making sense and seem to be happening for a reason. Life has meaning and purpose when your thoughts and actions are in sync. You become more connected to yourself because you put trust back into the equation. Doing what is right, when it is right to do so. A child knows how to laugh and when to laugh and if something is funny, that child will laugh. A simple example of closing the gap between thought and action. Yet as adults sometimes we hesitate. We don’t laugh at things that are funny or we do laugh at things that are not funny, usually out of some desire to be polite or to not seem rude. We go against ourselves and we widen the gap. This happens on a small scale, as is the case with laughing, and on a big scale, as is the case with the young girl who is in and out of rehab.

Yoga asanas all have many unique qualities, like grounding, vitality, balance and stability. We also have these qualities. We know that we have these qualities but we don’t always experience them. Experience, of course, comes from action. We know but we don’t do. The gap. I know that I can be grounded, and when I am in Child’s Pose (Balasana) I am grounded. Action. Closing the gap. When I am in Warrior (Virabhadrasana) I am vitality. When I am in Tree Pose (Vrksasana) I am balance. When I am in Boat Pose (Navasana) I am stability. I bring these qualities to life through action.

It is not enough to just know. We must do. Doing is living. Yoga allows us to practice taking action and closing this gap. Yoga gives us tools, but it is up to us how and if we will use them.

“He who hesitates is lost.” Hesitation is the antithesis of action. Taking action is done consciously and with intention. It is meaningful and purposeful. Actions bring about change, shifts that untie the fabric of stagnation. If you have ever taken a yoga class, then hopefully you have experienced a shift from the beginning of class to the end of class, noticed the changes that took place in your body. Maybe you even felt those changes on a deeper, more emotional or spiritual level. That is the power of action, a power that you hold. Be one of the few who not only know the way, but walk it with thoughts, words, and deeds in line. That is the true alignment that yoga can bring into our lives.

 

 

 

Rebecca Rose Goetz, MPH

Rebecca is a yoga instructor and the owner of Sat Nam Yoga in Bethel, Connecticut. She completed her yoga teacher trainings through the Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga Institute as well as the Prenatal Yoga Center. Vinyasa Yoga has been a transformational force in her life and she feels passionately about passing on all that yoga has to offer.

Her undergraduate work at Ithaca College was in Health & Physical Education and she works as a high school teacher in Brewster, New York where she was nominated for “Educator of the Year” in 2009. Rebecca also has a Masters Degree in Public Health (MPH) from New York Medical College with a concentration in Behavioral Science and Health Promotion.

In both her personal and professional life, Rebecca strives for and encourages others to make healthy choices that improve overall quality of life. For more information on Rebecca or Sat Nam Yoga please visit BethelYoga.com or LiveHappyBeHealthy.com.

 

 

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