Yoga and the Athletes Transition

Yoga and the Athletes Transition

I am a triathlete (insert: businessperson, golfer, scientist, mom, other)!  I am here to do triathlons!  I realize my truth through exercise!

If these are the words of your inner voice…read on!

Yoga Transition

While many people believe yoga is Downward Dog and Tree Pose, the truth is these asanas or postures are the most superficial aspects of a true yoga practice.  Many modern day physicists conclude that the science of yoga, which itself means “union,” consists of individual awakeness (or more popularly – consciousness) in union with the universe or spirit.  Not to get too deep for I am still a superficial little triathlete working on becoming more authentic, more awake, and I am yet to grasp that this profound practice of yoga proclaims that unity pervades the universe!  Wow… this big stuff.  In short, everything is connected… even your thoughts!

As I age and am coming to recognize that my typical westerner pattern of looking outside self for fulfillment simply isn’t working, and while winning a race or closing the big business deal are fun, they are only temporary joys, and will never give me what I want.

I injured my shoulder in a cross country ski crash a few years back and needed to get surgery this Spring.  The recovery has been great and I’m starting to feel strong again.  However, I am unable to compete in any tri or bike races this summer, and am feeling a sense of loss and a bit depressed.  I was talking to my mum the other day and she said, “Do you realize that you have been competing in some form of sport since you were 5 years old?”  I gave her the fake giggle as I became aware that my mind and body have thrived on that none stop drip of achievement, the juicy feeling of a depleted body and the myriads accolades coaches and peers have given me for decades; “This is a pattern!”

How do I transition from my accustomed and repeated pattern of looking outside my self for fulfillment to looking inward for real meaning?  And how can I do it when the world around me has conditioned me to believe this way?

As an owner of a yoga studio (Evolve Duluth)  http://www.evolveduluth.com/yoga-spin-classes and PhD candidate in Transpersonal Psychology, I have I come to realize one thing – that the Bible is right: “Be still and know that I am God.”  Yoga is about being still – which is counter-intuitive to the moving athlete or active business person.  It isn’t about judging whether or not you won a race or closed the deal.  It isn’t about having the nice bike or ripped body.  It isn’t about the Paleo diet or the strict vitamin program; It is about union with the energy around you.  This may seem complicated, and if it does, you are over thinking it.  Yoga is the simple process of changing the outward flow of energy inward – to fully relax the mind and bring the energy in.  Truth be told, you can do this while riding your bike, swimming or any form of movement.  You just need to be “awake.”

Recent research says that ½ to ¾ of our days are spent day dreaming or mindless activity.  The research goes on to say that most of that time the mind is spinning neutral or negative thoughts.  If you are unable to be awake to catch these moments you will become negative person.  Let me explain.  If you do push ups regularly you will strengthen the anterior deltoids, the pecs, the core, etc.  If you spin negative thoughts you will strengthen the neuro pathways and get really good and strong at being negative.  It’s a simple math equation.  If you are in a transition that was not in your “perfect plan” (ie. you got injured, lost your job, or broke up with your sweetie pie), then it should come as no surprise that you will spin more negative thoughts, create stronger pathways, and develop a hue of negative or bummed-out-ness, during your mindless time.  Now is the time to level up your deeper yoga practice!  Do you have the Golden Glove to catch your negative thoughts when you are in a state of mindlessness?  Here’s how and it only takes about an hour a day:

  1. Make sure you eat a good meal of the stuff you KNOW is good for you and drink water.
  2. Go for a walk or jog or other form of exercise to burn off physical energy.  If you are injured, move what is healthy.  Note how the exercise feels; how your body is purifying and how you’re becoming aware of what your belly is feeling, your liver, your legs, your lungs…
  3. Once you return from your exercise, dry off and find a body of water that is quiet.  Lake Superior is great for this.  Simply sit by the lake (or any pond or body of water).
  4. Set your intention that you are going to be totally awake to negative thoughts as they relate to your transition.
  5. After you’ve set the intention, you will begin the meditation.  To start, find a comfortable seated position and stare into the body of water focusing only on your breath.
  6. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 7 and breathe out for a count of 8. Do this for 10-15 minutes.
  7. If any negative thoughts come in, simply breathe them away.  Really…it’s that simple!
  8. Journal your thoughts and energy each night before you go to bed.  Something magical happens when you write things down.
  9. Recognize that transitions are healthy and that the most effective approach to yoga is integrating meditation the deal specifically with energy and consciousness.

To sum it up, I was injured and am unable to compete, hang out with my buddies on Wednesday night bike rides and feel the feeling of being super fit.  All things I really miss.  None of these things are bad or leading me down some path of misery.  However, if left unchecked, my mind will make up stories and I could go down a road that is destructive.  The good news is, I am becoming more and more aware that I can’t control what happens to me, but I can control how I react to what has happened to me.  Because what happens to me, happens to you, happens to my dog, happens to the trees, and happens on Mars.  This yoga/union with the universe stuff is not whacky or far away, it’s just managing energy and harvesting unity with all that is around you.  So…if matter and energy are one… maybe.. I am child of the Universe/God/Mystical.  I am here to share my positive energy with the universe.  I realize my truth through authentic and meaningful connections with self and all that is.

Photo – shutterstock.com

Rod Raymond

A PhD candidate in Transpersonal Psychology, Rod is the owner of Evolve Duluth Yoga studio, several restaurants and an events company. As an international ultra endurance champion athlete and business man, Rod has experienced the emotional ups and downs often associated with a high octane life, and has been pushed into finding balance and happiness through yoga and various contemplative practices. The energy garnered from this transition guides Rod's writings, seminars and books.