Be Diamond Status

Once I was travelling for work with Dan, a friend and colleague. At the last minute, after a long day on the road, we were delayed and needed to stay on for another night. It was late, but we found a hotel off the highway. We entered the lobby and requested rooms from the deskman. He said, unfortunately, due to the busy season and late hour, there were no rooms available. Then Dan, who travelled a lot, presented his diamond card for that hotel. The deskman took the card, vigorously typed for thirty seconds, and found Dan a deluxe suite at the regular rate. He searched again and also found a room for me. I went to Dan’s room to check out the suite. It had a sitting room, gift package, hot tub, and a chocolate on the pillow. I left, took the elevator down, and found my room nestled between the hotel’s boiler room and all the ice machines. For sure, after a long day I was thankful I had any place to sleep, as well as great access to ice,  but I couldn’t help but think that although we both showed up at the same place and time, I was not receiving the same benefit as Dan. Then I decided may be a smart move to get one of those diamond cards.

In many ways your practice of yoga is analogous. Your goal is to come into every yoga class with diamond status. How do you do this? How do you immediately go to being a diamond member and maximize your practice? Simple. You are operating at diamond when you are concentrating, focusing, and giving your personal best with every movement and with every breath. In doing so, you maximize your time, your physical body maximizes your effort, and your subtle energy body will maximize its charge. Bottom line, you maximize your results. By focusing and concentrating, you are diamond. Conversely, if you come to the class and just go through the motions, yes, it is true you will still receive benefits, but your benefits may not be equal to the you who does the same exact pose giving their personal best. Being at that diamond level is a critical skill unto itself.  

As you go through your practice, consistently check in with yourself. Scan your body. Feel every cell lengthen while you move. Breath intentionally and feel your breath wash through your body. Consciously feel the benefit of the pose. Practice in your own space, don’t pay mind to the person to your left or your right or pay mind to your own fleeting thoughts. It’s all about you. The pose. The breath. Give yourself permission to heal and set your mind that you are going to extract every atom of benefit from your practice to the best you can in that moment. Set your mind to this and behave in this manner for every moment of every class. As time goes by, your body and mind will adapt and your mindset will slowly morph into your unconscious action. The truth is you are already diamond status. To unlock and access it you simply have to acknowledge it in order to receive all the benefits. You will.


Yoga is for Veterans

The practice of yoga will create space between your action and reaction. This is accomplished by learning to control ones breath. In controlling the breath you can better control the nervous system. A primary benefit of the practice of yoga is the raising of ones awareness through creating space between your action and reaction and being aware of your breath, which controls the fight or flight and rest and relax impulses of your nervous system. In that space resides a heightened awareness.

What wires together, fires together. Through the practice of yoga, you will synchronize your systems, mental, physical, and spiritual. In that space there is peace. With peace, you begin to let go of your fears and anxieties. In the gym we work from the outside in to build our muscles and improve our cardiovascular fitness. The goal is mold and sculpt our physical bodies. In yoga, we work from the inside out. We address all the systems, to include the nervous, glandular, digestive, circulatory, as well as spiritual - our very aura. Good news, in practicing yoga you will still derive physical benefits, you will be strong, but you will be more flexible not just mentally, but physically too. However, most critically the true benefit is within.

Who is yoga for? Simple: Everybody. That includes veterans. In America, yoga has been marketed in a manner where men have not been the focus, certainly not Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen. However, the very ancient origins relate to a warrior. Some of the most basic poses (asanas) are called Warrior. It is for you.

Who can do yoga? Everybody. Remember this, if you can breathe, you can do yoga. A Marine Vietnam veteran told me that piece of advice when I first began practicing to be a teacher. I still go back to it again and again. Bottom line: If you are breathing, you can do yoga. In fact, breathing is yoga. It's simple.

I encourage you to give it a try, begin to create the space within piece by piece. Give yourself permission to find a place of non-judgement where you can rest and relax in a peaceful state. In doing so you raise your awareness. Critically, by practicing you begin to equip yourself with tools, with ancient technology, designed in a way which will help us, you and me, cope with this stressful world around us. To enable us to walk this world with equanimity. In yoga, we focus on the present moment. Not the before, which we can't change; not the after, which you can't control, just the breath you are in. The breath at the tip of your nose at this moment. Take one focused inhale and exhale and feel the difference. Importantly, we use yoga to facilitate us letting go of what we carry, that is weighing us down, that doesn't serve us anymore. Begin creating the space. Give yoga a try.