What are you training for?
It’s not often that I hear a question that stops me in my tracks, one that makes me pause and search for an answer, but this was one of them. I heard it while listening to Tim Ferris’s podcast featuring Peter Attia, M.D. on the topics of Fasting, Metformin, Athletic Performance. Dr. Attia was discussing something he is excited about – training for The Cenatarian Olympics. The concept is to train today for the daily activities you love so that you can continue to enjoy the quality of life into your 90’s and beyond. One of his personal goals is to be able to get up off the floor with a single point of support—probably not a big deal for a healthy 40-year-old, but think about how many 100-year-olds you know who can do that! This mindset and focus can have many added benefits as we age. Brilliant. Now, how do I incorporate this into my life?
The first thing that comes to mind is yoga, both my personal practice and how I teach. I fully expect to be practicing yoga as a centenarian, so now’s the time to start training for that. Not only does yoga give me a physical workout, but add to that continuous learning and self-inquiry involved and I could be training for many lifetimes. Great, let’s get to work.
For my own practice, I’ve decided to invest in one-on-one lessons where I’m on a quest to deepen my practice, to carry this knowledge forward to my yoga students, and to incorporate massage therapy as a way to aid in recovery and soothe my nervous system. Here’s what deepening my practice means to me:
~Ensure that the foundational elements (technique) of the asanas I perform are correct. Do they maximize my natural abilities while minimizing risk for injury – now and in the years to come? Can I continue to fine-tune these techniques to build a stronger and more resilient mind and body?
~Work on my weaknesses. Embrace the asanas that I don’t like, the ones that are difficult for me, or that I avoid because of past injuries. Explore various types of modifications.
~Gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of primary poses, the Sanskrit definitions, and the relationships of complementary poses and counterposes.
~Work to deconstruct peak poses (inversions, arm balances) in order to advance my practice.
~Develop a better understanding of anatomy as it relates to the practice of yoga.
As I pondered the “what are you training for” question I began to recognize the many people (including myself to some extent) tend to train/exercise mindlessly. The other day I actually saw someone in the midst of a free weight workout who had an iPad propped up and a movie playing next to his bench! Needless to say, many people are simply going through the motions, but how can you build upon your efforts to truly make progress that will have a positive impact on your life? I approached my yoga teaching with this challenge and am working towards incorporating the following structure into my regular teaching schedule:
Create a series of classes (4-6 consecutive weeks, for example) that will incorporate a theme, deconstruct a primary pose, feature a peak pose, and present a foundational yoga philosophy. The sequence (flow) of the class will remain the same for the series, however, any single class could stand alone. The purpose of the sequential structure is the ability to introduce and break-down foundational elements while building upon knowledge and experiences of each class – ultimately providing the practitioner with the stepping stones to a deeper more intentional practice.
I believe it will be rewarding and motivating to reflect on periods of training and consider what I’ve learned, the impact it has had on my life and students, and how it can be built upon for the next challenges or phases in life.
Writing this blog has helped me identify that I’m training for longevity, mobility, and clarity. I don’t know how my training will evolve over the next many years, but I feel like with this plan I’m off to a good start! I’ll update this blog as I progress, and in the meantime let me know what you are training for and we can motivate each other.