"A woman on a bridge has two choices: jump or not jump... A woman falling through the air has no choices. (...) That bridge is where you know your impulse is to live. Walking around in our normal lives, on sidewalks, on floors, on the ground, we don’t have to make that decision to live or die. But on the bridge, you’re making that decision: LIVE."
— How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky: A Novel
by Lydia Netzer
I'm participating in a 40-day program of "personal transformation" (which I say in quotes not because I don't believe in it, but because it feels like a really big thing to just write without any sort of off-setting), and the theme for this week is vitality. That word, to me, brings up weird images of elderly men doing calisthenics... no, I don't know why or where that came from. But what I think it really means is finding your life source. Your will. Your drive. Vitality is energy — in our chakras, it glows bright yellow right in the center of our core. And this makes sense: Our core strength is what powers so much of our other movement. Ask a pregnant woman or new mom how she's feeling... on top of all of the not sleeping and the whole human literally sucking life out of her body, there's also been a large, powerful change to her physical center of being. It's ROUGH — or so I've heard.
I believe, wholeheartedly and before really anything else in this world, that choice is what gives me my life. I derive my energy from choice. I am all of the choices I've made — somewhere there are millions of alternate versions of my life in which I made other choices, but this one, right here, is the one I chose.
As I was reminded by the passage above (from a really interesting book that I definitely recommend to those who appreciate poetic prose and strange love stories), every single day until now, we've made the choice to stay alive. But have we made the brave choice to really live? And there is a difference. You know there is.
Someone I admire in the industry posted yesterday on social media a story about how all the exercise she used to do came from a place of hatred for herself and her body and a need to change it. Even though the physical movement itself was good for her muscles, it wasn't good for her soul — I didn't make her feel empowered or strong. Yes, she was choosing the "healthy" option, but it was anything but. How many of us feel that way? We show up for a yoga class for any number of reasons, from obligation to guilt, not always because we're really choosing to be there from a place of genuine love and respect for ourselves.
And as far as choice goes once we do get on our mat, we think don't have a lot of autonomy, that the instructor dictates what we're doing. But, here's the thing: you ALWAYS have a choice. I would never, ever begrudge a student who chooses to take child's pose or hold downward dog or just sit on her mat, even, because that's being true to herself. (There is a double-standard, however, for pushing beyond the instructor and going into sequences and poses that aren't inline with the class... most instructors put their class together for a reason. If you want to do your own thing, please choose to do it at home.) As you breathe and flow, take a look at your choices in your movements. Are they timid and small because you're nervous about looking silly? Are you always choosing the hardest option because you think it's better, more impressive? Understand where your choice is coming from. Let it come from a place of solid foundation, of conviction, of fearlessness, and of true, genuine living.
And to end, with another quote about choice from a favorite book:
"Exactly," said Dumbledore, beaming once more. "Which makes you very different from Tom Riddle. It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."