If you have been to one of my asana classes you have probably heard me talk about “superpowers”. I believe everyone has one or two or three (or more!) and that when we recognize what they are we have an obligation to hone our superpowers and use them in the world for the benefit of all beings. I think our superpowers are clear indicators of our “dharma packet”, the actions that are to be completed while we are in this body during this lifetime. If we work towards fulfilling that packet, which is individual to each of us, we contribute to the maintenance of harmony, light and love in this world. The ironic thing is we don't usually recognize what our superpowers are, and when others point them out to us, we shrug the information off in an attempt at humility or because we are embarrassed or confused.
We don’t usually realize that not everyone sees things the way we do, or knows things that we know. Not everyone can calculate the gratuity on a bill just by glancing at the total, or find a 4 leaf clover in a sea of grass, complete a jigsaw puzzle in a few hours, or craft the theory of relativity. Not many people can recognize a note out of tune, see a in a person's eyes when they are untruthful, or hear the proper course of action for someone who is at a crossroads. We might think people understand and hear things the way we do, and when they don’t seem to notice what we notice we either think there is something wrong with them, or something is wrong with us.
This was really driven home to me during my trip with my family this past month: Imagine traveling to foreign country with a man who is colorblind, hard of hearing and is on the continual search to make new friends, a 19 year old who can't bear loud noises and crowds, doesn’t want to make any friends, and can tell what cell phone a person is carrying by the set of their jaw, a 17 year old who sees patterns in all things, eavesdrops on conversations (even if they are in a different language) to see which person is going to be her new friend, and is constantly on the lookout for her next feeding, and a person who has the worst sense of direction in the history of directionless people, over-appreciates textiles and footwear to the point of dangerous distraction, and is seriously invested in keeping her family out of harm's way (that’s me!), you begin to realize that when you all walk into a new room, everyone in that small group of 4 just saw and experienced something completely different. What we notice is driven by our own personal superpower (or super- annoyance) to experience, or not experience what is in that room.
But really, that all is not what I wanted to focus on in this writing. That just slipped out, and maybe it will be useful to someone. What I wanted to highlight is that for some reason, even after seeing clients for years now, I just got (I mean really got it) recently that a lot of people just don’t know what to do about their aches and pains. People don’t know how to find a comfortable way to be or the right questions to ask themselves. This realization, after so many years working with people as a Yoga Therapist, was actually startling to me. Crazy, right!?
I have been studying people's bodies for about 45 years now. I imagine it started because I couldn't understand why my parents bodies didn't move like everyone else's, and of course I wanted them to be able to move like everyone else. What kid wouldn’t? I remember sitting with my mom and saying “But can’t you just move that finger like this?” And no, it wasn’t possible. I have never stopped looking at people's bodies and imagined how they could move more efficiently, gracefully, joyfully and painlessly. My recent ah ha moment was less about my knowing that this was one of my superpowers, and more about me realizing it is not everyone's superpower, or even an interest. Remember when you were a kid and you had a favorite toy, or food, and you wanted everyone to have the same thing because you figured they would like it as much as you did? I think that is what I was thinking, everyone has this, or everyone wants this. But really, not everyone wants to know the ins and outs of body mechanics, fascia and prana. I get that. Now. When I was younger I worked for a woman who thought everyone in the factory we worked with in rural Tennessee wanted to be like her and dress like her because she lived in NYC. I remember thinking how crazy that seemed. So now I get it that not everyone wants to know what I know, it would be just as crazy to think that was true.
It has been part of the journey as a yoga teacher and therapist to recognize that not all people care about maintaining their bodies according to classical yoga systems, or even any system. It is something that I try to stay observant about- watching how I might react, judge, or take it personally. Seeing through the lense of one of my superpowers, which desires a harmonious working of all body parts and pranic systems, it can be hard to step back and know that even if I might be able to assist with this or that, it doesn't mean I should. I think it's important that all yoga students recognize this struggle that their teachers must at some point address in themselves. My experience is that it is quite obvious when a yoga teacher has not chosen to look at this. I think it comes across quite plainly in their teaching and assisting. But that is my perception because I am watching for it in myself, and at times it is all I see when I enter a room.
If you are one of my students, I thank you for your patience with me as I work this through. Clearly, from this rambling, you can guess that new layers are either being torn away or forming. One thing that I am clear about is that we have to balance our superpowers with appropriate action. Know that I will always offer information, and if you are interested, I am willing to share what I know, see and perceive. And if you are not interested, it’s ok too. It is your body after all.
Now to the real point of all this rambling! I started to write this to simply offer a new course that I am very excited about. You can read more about it here. I hope during this course to give those who want to know, practical advice and tools to address mobility issues. I hope to instill a curiosity in you about your body, with this curiosity leading to concrete questions, experimentation, data gathering, and action, that will help you get to know your body more, and help you to maintain it. Here is my reasoning on why you should consider this course, putting aside my compulsion about harmonious body structures: If you have not recognized your superpowers yet, you need more time on this earth to do so. And more time on this earth requires a healthy, mobile body. That is not always true of course, but it makes the journey easier. What do I get out of it? I get to fulfill one of my dharma packets, maintain my business, and I get to ensure that there is one more body out there who is actively searching for Steerum Sukam Asana (steady comfortable seat, Yoga Sutras 2:46). It is only from this steady comfortable seat, the yogis tell us, that we can find the light in ourselves and so be able to shine it outwards to the rest of the world. If you have any questions about the course, please email me!
Hope to see you in the space, searching for and honing your superpowers!