Chapter 28 | Giving It All

ladies doing yoga on the beach

I have had these two themes mulling through my head all week long and I have definitely tried to address them in some of my classes – I just never know whether I truly get the concept across or not…

Yielding… total surrender.  For example, when you have an incredible massage where you completely trust the person and the process (rare, however exceptional).

When you ‘hang out’ with a friend, spouse, relative and you are literally just ‘together’ – no need to speak, to do, just be.

So, when we are in a class and we enter a ‘deep stretch’, one that bites, feels like tooth ache, one that changes your breathing pattern, one that arouses the skin on your body and make you want to clench your jaw and fists.. and I say ‘surrender’. it’s pretty tough right? Now the thing is, a therapist who is in-tune with his/her client and a therapist who has good intuition, knows exactly when there is a pretence, a brave coping disposition (face calm, however gritted teeth and clenching bones deep within – the sympathetic nervous system in over-drive and all the person wants to do is actually fly the nest, however they stay in the nest because they have been told to do so, or they don’t want to give up).  But, actually, the sad thing is, no adaptation in the soft tissue will occur, you are in the posture, however you don’t allow the posture to truly settle – you play with it, however internally you resist it (a bit like being in a bad relationship for a long time). The extra sad fact is that you are building a negative memory pattern and every time you get into that position you instantaneously and automatically go into your ‘coping strategy’; busting knuckles, busting your guts whilst you wait for the clock to bust… I don’t even think that this is resilience…. I actually think that this is meaningless. I have been there myself, many times, especially when I was younger and I entered a new arena or an advanced class with very experienced movers where I felt intimidated and I was not yet confident, nor skilful enough to pace myself..

To yield, is to understand that you are entering a situation where you will be challenged; this could be pain, discomfort, pressure, a pull, a stretch etc. however, you have control. You can go deeper, you can pause WHILST YOU BREATH and you can exit gradually. We are talking millimetres at a time. This process is so powerful and so beautiful and will last for you long after the stretch is completed. This process needs trust (confidence that you are in control and that you will not hurt yourself or be hurt) and time.  We all, as people, have different thresholds of adapting to new environments, to new challenges, to new demands and some of us adapt faster than others. This is also not static, your adaptability changes from day to day and there are a million things that can influence it, both internal and external factors. You have to have great awareness and you need to be able to feel pressure when something is blocked, when there is an opening, when to hold and when to go deeper.. I use breath:  I pause, rest and calm my nervous system down as I breathe in. I literally have a pause when I breathe in, this gives me a sense of control and as I breathe out I even like to sigh loudly… and then I yield. I literally feel how I sink, how I rest my weight deeper down and I let go of any resistance. The resistance in my mind, my muscles, my joints, my breath, my gut.. all of it.. I always think of being so tired, I literally can’t keep my eyes open, I am not able to hold anything for any longer, I just give in, surrender and fall asleep…

Take any stretch that you want to accomplish, take only one. Set yourself up for success and start well. Foundation is key. Then stay in this stretch for 5 minutes. Do this stretch for 10 days in a row and see what happens. Do nothing else but stretch. No music, no chat, no distraction, only you, your weight and your breath. Then write to me and tell me what you found.

Give it your all.  This is a huge statement. How many times in your life have you literally given it your all? Placed all your money on a bet? Sprinted till you collapsed. Punched so hard that you experienced a black-out? When you think about this, these are life-death situations, Olympic medal situations, World-Cup games….Most of us don’t even know what our max is, and we will possibly never find out. I am fascinated by people that have tested themselves to the absolute limit. I am a dare devil – give me a challenge and I will go for it, yet I have no idea if I have even reached 90%, I actually don’t think I have, more like 80%.

suzanne conquering a peak in the alps, july 2019

What is it that some people can literally go to that absolute max and others can’t, won’t, or are not interested? Marco and I chatted about this once. One of our theories is fear. If I kick you as hard as I possibly can, would you be able to kick me harder and could I handle that? (fights). When I had tried my hardest best and it was not good enough, when I thought I would do much better – would I be able to cope with that?

So when we are in the class and we do 3 sets. What is your mindset? How much do you give in your first set, your second set and then your third? Most of us preserve, we hold a little bit back. This is probably wise and it keeps us safe, however do we really push our true potential and capacity with this mindset?

My challenge for you – think about this a bit – what keeps you back or what makes you stay where you are? Does it serve you? If it does, then stay with it. If it does not, what about next time try to change your mindset: 3 sets.  First your absolute best. Then see what is left over? You might just be surprised.

I am hesitant to write the next bit, perhaps Alice and or my Dad will edit this out. So nothing to lose. I can only really remember giving my best in 3 situations. They all involved running:

1. Tri-athlon in a team with my work. I was in a team with Nicky and John. John swam, Nicky cycled and I had to do the 10km run. My competition for the run was my boss and we were seriously competitive and I promised myself on that day that that man would NOT beat me on that run, no matter what. Dressed up in my butterfly wings and a skirt!!! John had a good swim and we had a good start, Nicky was OK on the bike, however she had one of these cool, vintage bikes, not exactly competitive and the other team was catching up fast. I started to run and I probably had between a 60-90 seconds advantage on my boss. I promise you, I don’t know who pushed harder, but bloody hell did I dig deep that day… I had a 200 metres sprint ahead of me and he was coming up behind and I realised that I was about to lose bladder control, like in there and then! And true as hell to my Butterfly Team I peed myself completely wet.. I crossed that line, looking like a hose-pipe and all I could scream to Nicky was that I had wet myself,  I needed the bathroom and a towel! There was nothing left in me to control anything anymore.. I gave my max, my absolute everything!

2. Half-iron man with my brother. The same ordeal. Interesting in both scenarios: Both were very hot days and I had a lot to drink the day before!! Stupid, yes I know. PS! I was very stupid when I was young. No regrets.

3. Marathon – Prague. Last km, I could not stop, I had to make my 3.5 hours and it was absolutely touch and go. I threw my water bottle down, my top around my waist; I literally could not cope with an ounce extra and then again, bladder went. I just remember being so so tired that I could not care, I did not care, I just collapsed into a heap at the finish line. And I can tell you, you do not necessarily feel triumphant when you cross that line, you can actually feel tremendously depressed, exhausted and incredibly lonely. It is only later, when you sit with a pint in your hand and you cannot get on or off a chair or take a step that you start to feel good.

When I see an athlete complete a race, I always wonder how they feel in those first few seconds/minutes. I wonder what goes through their minds and I wonder whether their pants are dry.

I wonder if someone were to ask me if there was one thing left in my life where I wanted to give it my absolute everything, I wonder what that would be…? I cannot think of anything today, perhaps that is my answer.

Now how about some feedback from you, the reader?  Any similar episodes in your life?  Another thought: Do you think that parallel experiences can happen other than physical? Emotional, intellectual, spiritual levels?  Let us hear from you!

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