Yoga Is My Music Lesson
Use the force. I made a joke somewhere along these lines in yoga class yesterday. To avoid being a complete nerd, I held back on the rest of the line, something about "Let if flow within you." But it's such a good line. Use the force, not force the force. Let it flow within you, rather than crash up against it.

When I was a little kid learning to play the piano and trumpet, it seemed to come pretty easily. I flew through what were considered pretty "advanced" pieces on the piano. And there were times when my range and endurance with the trumpet became a source of annoyance for my brother, even though he was seven years older and music was his life.  

From my perspective, speed, endurance, hitting the notes -- that was pretty much it.  It all sounded correct to me. But my teachers... always telling me to slow it down. If I couldn't first go through a piece slowly and have it be music -- rather than just notes -- adding speed wasn't going to create music either. It might muffle the strain created by my lack of choice in the matter, but it wasn't going to make something beautiful. My ears didn't pick it up back than, but I could see it in my teacher's expression.  And in the end it was my brother who played at Carnegie Hall, not me. He didn't always win, struggling to be patient with himself. But he made music.

Yoga is my music lesson now. Learning first to go slow enough to listen, slow enough to hear our bodies. When moving slowly or quickly is a choice, then we move how we want, with our intuition, connected to our selves. When it's not a choice, we may rush or jump a little from move to move (we're still doing the "moves" after all), but we may be hitting the notes without making music. We miss connecting to our selves.  

Yoga opens up when we shift from forcing the force, to trusting what's inside us already. Trusting that we can be patient. Believing that where we are is ok, and that our work, compassion and growing connection with our selves is everything we need to get us where we want to go. I know from watching my brother  that this can be a very tough practice sometimes -- especially when someone next to you seems to have such an easy time with the moves. But that's what yoga is good for. It's our practice ground for how we want to live: compassionate, connected, fun, and always able to choose and create our own direction.
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About the Author

Mike is a guide and resident healer at Strala Yoga in New York. Named “Best Mover” by MindBodyGreen and one of Shape Magazine’s Hottest Trainers, he’s practiced Eastern movement and healing techniques for more than three decades, including tai chi, qigong, and shiatsu.

In his younger years, Mike challenged centuries of reasonable and well-tested martial traditions in hundreds of competitions, by applying unruly imagination to a world where rules were unbreakable. As he got older, he happily become more interested in supporting bodies than disrupting them, and continued on to medical applications of the mind-body connection in university.

Mike studied mind-body medicine at Harvard, and alternative medicine and psychology at Oxford. After running into walls with standard medical practice in the U.S. and England, Mike left his healthcare roots. He worked at a steel mill for a while, joined a web company, and then founded a few more. He now serves on the board of Odyl, which helps people discover books on Facebook.

As Strala's co-founder, Mike has found his way back to health care done right: helping people let go of stress in their bodies and minds, become their own best caregivers, and live happy capable lives. Mike is a mountaineer, runner, cyclist, skier, and snowboarder. Check out Michael's MBG Video Course, The Complete Guide To Yoga.

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