From Latin, moveō (“I move”).
I thought long and hard whether to continue efforts of encouraging practice or exercise without a live, in-person class. I read other trainers’ and teachers’ writings on this subject and reflected back on what it was in my life that got me to finally do it. To those of you who are practicing yoga or exercising- please set aside what is not of use and carry on knowing that I bow to your diligence. Others of you already know this story, but it’s the only one I’ve lived.
A long, long time ago, (well 1994-95-ish) I was having a really hard time getting through a 40 hour work week because my boyfriend at the time was having a hard time not getting caught drinking and driving. My co-worker kept reminding me that when his wife was having the same problem I did (in love with an active alcoholic), she found a lot of help by going to Al-Anon. He just wouldn’t stop, asking me, “did you go yet?”, for about 6 months. Finally, I did. Partly it was out of shear desperation, partly because I would finally be able to shut him up by saying “Yes, I went to a meeting.”
Fast forward to 2001. Going to those meetings created in me the understanding that I was not a victim of my circumstances and conditions. I could change, I could be different. I joined Weight Watchers. Over the months, the meeting leader and the program kept saying over and over and over, “You have to move, do exercise, be active.” Now I had tried exercise off and on. But I had never felt comfortable in a class or gym. Just walking 20 minutes straight was a huge deal for me. Then, only to finally be able to say I was doing it, I signed up for a yoga class at the local community center.
It was flippin hard! Downward dog my head would be yelling “This is too hard- I HATE THIS!” Warrior 2 my front thigh would be burning with seemingly unbearable fire. Yet, there was something in me that knew this was the kind of exercise I could do, just as I was at that moment. I didn’t have to be in better shape, I didn’t have to have a different body. I didn’t have to fit in with the normal people. I didn’t need to be liked by others. Yoga was a good fit for me.
At the end of every class the teacher would beg, “Please practice at home, just even for 20 minutes!” She would bring books of yoga poses to show us, always with the implied “there’s nothing preventing you from doing this but you”.
I finally gave in- just like the previous times. I borrowed one of her books for a week. And it worked. I had to put up baby gates to keep the dogs out from under me. I had to plan around and negotiate with the (different by then) boyfriend who found it inconvenient to him and inconsiderately pushed hard on my boundaries for a while. But it worked. I was doing it- practicing at home on my own. I was in a whole new kind of living I had absolutely no previous experience with. I was 36 years old.
“How do you define motivation? Think about that. Once you have a definition, can you write it down? Speak it out loud?” (Lisa Lewis, EdD, CADC-II)
I define motivation as that which puts me into motion.
“There are those who will gain awakening even if they don’t hear the teaching, those who will gain awakening only if they hear the teaching, and those who won’t gain awakening even if they do hear the teaching. It’s because the second group exists that he teaches everyone who comes to him.” Ajaan Geoff, Karma Q & A : A Study Guide, (pdf) pp. 23-24.
I don’t know which of you reading this will, like me, eventually be motivated by the incessant plea to practice yoga or exercise. Perhaps you are moved, inspired, by this story. Perhaps you are disturbed or concerned that you are not doing something. Perhaps you are tired of being tormented by your aches or thoughts or that I constantly write about it.
As I tell my (not one of those above mentioned boyfriends) husband, I will continue to bring it up until you report back that you are doing it. If you don’t know how or where to begin, I am more than happy to help you find a way.