Yoga by Ceci, Dacia and Gina in Rogers Park, Chicago IL

Move It or Lose It


Ponder over these two scenarios with me.


1)  Opportunity, a traveling salesman who persists in peddling via the “door-to-door” method, comes knocking one day while you are at the dentist.  Alas, you miss Opportunity, and the neighbor lady, who is near-sighted and rarely leaves home, comes into a million dollars.  Lucky lady!


2) While out for a walk at the dog park, you meet a guy who is wearing cool shoes.  “Where did you get those?” you ask, and he tells you that they are from Peru– he traveled there in college.  You chat about his travels and make plans to meet for coffee.  At the coffee shop, you see an ad on the community board that says: “Wanted: Dog-lover to watch our two wonderful pets for two weeks.  $1000 dollars for your trouble.”  Lucky you!


Let’s review:  In the first situation, you’re kicking yourself for having clean teeth instead of a million dollars, but opportunity only knocks once, right?  In the second scenario, opportunity knocked a couple of times, and a nice day at the dog park resulted in a new friend, a cup of coffee and a thousand bucks!

We’ve been catch-phrased to death in our society with adages like: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” or “Opportunity only knocks once.”  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good idiom as much as the next person, but those two are wolves in sheeps’ clothing.  At best, they are cute metaphors, but at worst, they are limiting, lame excuses from a society that freaks out about change.  If I had my way–which is to say, if I had creative license over the dictionary, the entire world of the written page at my disposal, and a catch-phrase bible of my own– the adage would go something like this: “opportunity favors a moving target.”

I am a huge proponent of making yourself available to opportunities, taking chances, and trailblazing when the path gets boring.  I like to swim in different currents; I’m a pisces, that’s my nature.  From New Jersey to the Carolinas, from Wrightsville Beach to Jones Beach, from Staten Island to India, from India to California, I have moved a lot.  I’m no pup-tent popping Davy Crocketteer, I love home too–someplace where I can keep a bookshelf and a bed–but my backpack is always packed and my gas tank is rarely full.  If yoga is my faith, then movement is my prayer.  I feel a deep sense of fullness in my soul when I’m on the move.

When I was younger, my mom called it the “Search For The Geographic Cure.”  She looked at me like most parents would look at a 17 year-old who leaves home at 5 am, drives 4 hours to Albany, NY and then back in time for dinner.  But I didn’t feel sick; I just had this gyroscopic feeling in my guts that wouldn’t rest.  Something in me demanded movement, change, novelty.  I was like a fish that couldn’t live without fresh current flowing over my scales, or a wildflower that sows its seeds on the wind.  I was homesick for the world.  My wandering footsteps led from one coast to the other, from the top to the bottom and back, again and again, first all over the country, then all over the world.  In my life, if opportunity wasn’t knocking, or didn’t knock loudly enough, or wasn’t selling something I wanted, I moved!  I wouldn’t have the life I have now if I had stayed put.  I wouldn’t be here in Chicago learning what it means to stay put if I hadn’t moved.  For me, the wandering was what I needed to learn the value of stillness.

Change is a constant in life and on the yoga mat–we vary the poses, we vary the pranayama, we change our perspective and our blood-flow when we move through inversions; we even practice crossing our fingers in an atypical way.  We honor the movement of the asana and the stillness of meditation with the flow of prana, of breath.  In this way, we are ever-changing.  We pour change into our lungs with every inhale, and we remove stagnant energy with each exhale.   If we didn’t change the air in our lungs, the old breaths would poison us.  Stagnant energy is toxic.  When we sit for long periods of time the synovial fluid in the spinal cord stagnates and we are at greater risk of developing abnormal cells (aka cancerous cells), muscles develop holding patterns and those can  fossilize into structural changes.  Our brains forget how to learn if we do not practice creating new neural pathways; without change, our bodies become ghost-towns.

Isn’t that TERRIFYING?! Doesn’t it make you want to do a handstand right now!?  I’m being hyperbolic for a reason.  Just so you’re aware of my motives, I’ll use whatever tactics I can to get you away from the computer the second you’re finished reading.  This is really what I’m driving at: Change–whether it’s big, small, venti, grande, whatever–is a GOOD THING.  In asana, small changes in your pose can completely shift the flow of energy through your body.  Good adjustments gives a pose a whole new flavor.  Small changes in life are the same: they redirect energy in exactly the same way.  The slightest breeze could blow the door wide open and let something different and wonderful in!   Check out the old lady in scenario 1!  All she did was answer her door.

I know, I know.  It sounds like the winds of change have carried me away completely.  I should emphasize that you’re not doomed if you don’t pick up and move to Djibouti tomorrow, and you don’t have to go buy a dog and take him to the dog park just to feel differently in your life, *if you do have a dog, please take him or her to the dog park, often!*  you don’t have to pack up your suitcase right now and hit the road–although that sounds awesome–just feel for what happens if you give your life a healthy dose of change.  This could be as straightforward as combing your hair in a different direction or walking a new route to or from the train station.  You could get a library card instead of buying your books on Amazon.  Any path that strays from your normal routine will avail you of new opportunities and remind your body and your brain that you are still in evolution.


And for the record: Opportunity doesn’t just knock once.  Opportunity writes on your facebook wall.  It texts.  It leaves notes under your windshield wipers and stands outside your window holding a boombox.  In my experience, opportunity moves around a LOT, and as long as you keep moving, keep your heart and your ears open, you might miss a couple of knocks, but you can’t miss them all.  Luckily for all of us, scenario 2 is much easier to come by.  Even if you don’t have a dog, there are plenty of strangers in cool shoes.  Namaste, y’all :)


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