How To Get Truly Strong (Without Setting Foot In A Gym)

We all know about transactional relationships, whether we've called them by that name or not. They're relationships in which the object, or the joy, does not come from the relationship itself; it's a separate goal that's important. Money. Safety. Another possession to show off. Even when the goal is achieved, it's not quite the same, is it? Is a walk on the street the same? Is sex the same?

We all know the ideal relationship, too. It's you that's important. It's me. I'm not your goal. You're not mine. We're here sharing a walk through this whole thing, everything I am, everything you are. We're not aiming for the end of this walk. We don't want this walk to end.

If you have something good, prepare for the walk of your lifetime. If you have something transactional — and those transactions don't add up — prepare to get dumped.

Yoga is neat because you see everything about you in your yoga. It's even neater because you can create everything about you in your yoga. To work with it, you just need to feel it.

I see a lot of people in yoga become very concerned with the goals. I want that pose. Show me how to get that handstand! And now the flying pelican, the whirling lizard, or the elusive whooping canary!

When the goals are elusive, like the canary, people turn to a second set of goals. I must be stronger. More flexible. I must be bigger or smaller, longer arms or shorter legs!

All these aims. It sounds like what you have is a transactional relationship with your body. Uh oh.

Luckily, your body is patient with you. It's waiting for you to figure this one out.

People think I can do what I do in yoga because I'm strong. A long while ago, people thought the same when I was in martial arts competitions. I always tell them I'm very weak and very lazy! In a way both are true. Maybe the best thing to say is that I have a good relationship with my body.

No part of my body is working against any other part. And I'm not aiming for the goals. So whatever I do, even something hard, doesn't require much effort.

For more than 30 years, I've been moving and feeling. Moving everything I've got in every direction I can move, and getting good at working with what I have. The goals are there, but they're not what I work on. They happen. I keep moving.

In the gym, you lift weights to get strong. You're interested in the goal. But I've seen people who are very strong in this way, who can't move very well in their athletic efforts. I've seen people who are far less strong, who move with great strength and skill.

The gym is fine. But if you want to get really strong, quit the gym. Stop taking an interest in the goals. The weight you lift, the repetitions. Instead, take a strong interest in everything.

If you do things with struggle and force, you won't feel. Your body will do its best to keep you from hurting yourself, and will assume you don't care much about how anything feels. So that line of communication will be on mute. You won't learn anything.

When no part of your body is working against any other part, you can move very easily. This makes you extremely strong.

You don't get there by lifting a weight. You don't get there by exercising.

You get there by feeling. Move easily. Everything you've got, in every direction you can.

If you do things easily, and take an interest in all of you, your body will assume you care! Lines of communication flourish. You'll move not by force, but by knowing. Whatever you can imagine, you'll be able to do.

Make a good relationship with your body, and you become very strong. Your body won't dump you! You'll be able to do a whole lot in your life. You'll also be very happy.

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Michael Taylor

Co-Founder Of Strala Yoga & Tai Chi Expert
Mike Taylor is the co-founder of Strala along with his wife, Tara Stiles. He studied mind-body medicine at Harvard and complementary medicine at Oxford. Mike has practiced Eastern movement and healing, including tai chi and qigong, for more than 30 years. 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. His record established the strength of finding your own way in your own body rather than copying the techniques of other people’s traditions. As he got older, Mike continued on to medical applications of the mind-body connection in university. After running into walls with standard medical practice in the United States and England, he left his health care roots for a little while. As the first internet boom was getting started, he joined the startup team of one company, then founded a couple more. Now through Strala, Mike has found his way back to health care done right: helping people let go of stress in their bodies and minds, enable their lives, and become their own best caregivers.Mike has climbed some of the world’s largest mountains in Alaska, the Alps, and the Himalayas. He’s now a cyclist and runner and spends as much free time as possible exploring the backcountry on foot, skis, and snowboard. He lives in New York with his wife, Tara, and baby, Daisy.

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