If you've taken a class from me, you've heard me say, "Less intensity, more integrity." about a thousand times. I'll likely say it about a thousand more, too.
Why? The majority of classes I teach are heated, power yoga classes. Students arrive seeking a physical challenge and I honor that intention. However, it can get pretty intense. I witness students pushing themselves to the edge and beyond, riding the momentum of the room's combined energies, then leaving class totally spent. It's as if students are leaving pieces of themselves in the room and not finishing the practice feeling nourished.
As I deepen into the practice of yoga and life, I have realized that power is not in doing more; not more poses, more variations, more heat...true power is actually in doing less, with more integrity.
Say what? Yep, power arrives in "doing" less and "being" more.
Last week, during a particularly high energy class, I said, "Rushing through poses and adding bells and whistles isn't power, that's avoidance." You could have heard a pin drop. Take Vasisthasana (side plank pose). When I teach side plank, no sooner do the words come out of my mouth do students lift their top leg up, or take the posture into what's commonly known as "wild thing", rather than creating a strong and intentional side plank.
While I encourage students to honor their bodies and make the practice their own, I would be remiss if I didn't challenge their intentions when I see a constant leveling up. "More" is not always more. "More" often has students skating atop the physical practice, rather than dropping below the surface to the depths and divinity of the practice of yoga. "More" is often rooted in lack, of not getting what you expect to get.
I have found that integrity truly arrives when you slow down and stay. In yoga and in life. When my husband and I get into a heated discussion, every cell in my body wants to exit stage left. Rather than running, I slow down my breath and reactions and stay. The learning and growing has been in the staying.
Integrity is rootedness. Integrity is slow, subtle, grounded strength.
Consider in your life: What you are doing with intensity? Ask yourself why and get to the guts of it. Where in you life do you demand "more"? It it from a place of lack? Could it be rooted in fear? Or perhaps is it simply how you think you're "wired"? What would happen if you throttled off the intensity and dug into integrity?
I don't know the answers, only you do.
I'm on the path with you yogis, may we travel on together.