Practicing yoga over the past two decades has taught me to embrace the ideas that letting go of expectation will lead to acceptance, I must learn to breathe in the good and exhale away what's negative, and to let go of judgment and ego in order to find peace. It is said that yoga is a journey, and though these are values to live up to, "practice makes perfect." But growth can only happen outside our comfort zone, and I was ready for my next challenge.
I was first introduced to the art of MMA via kickboxing and Taekwondo. I had always wanted to get into kickboxing and have always had a level of curiosity regarding the discipline involved in Martial Arts; so I Googled the nearest dojo and started taking classes. The strength and balance came easily, but learning forms was a brand new world. And soon I quickly became introduced to boxing, Thai Boxing, and Krav Maga. I've trained for decades to stay rooted and grounded, now I was being taught to retrain my body to remain light on my feet, tuck my chin, and "stop dropping my arms."
Normally I was the only one to beat myself up for a bad workout, now I was being coached and trained in a discipline I barely understood by someone with very high expectations. It was now time to take the advice I have been dishing out to clients, and relearn how to "learn to let go" of my expectations, and accept the level I was working at on a whole new level.
In yoga there is no competition, and for me that carried over to my weight training as well. I never felt as though I needed to be better or stronger than anyone else. As a matter of fact, I felt encouraged by other female trainers. Maybe it's different for men.
In all Martial Arts (I am clumping self-defense in here) you reach a level where you are either sparring or grappling with an opponent. So even in the beginning when you are merely learning to keep your proper stance, you are learning both offensive and defensive techniques. The most fascinating part of it all is that your opponents, while they are trying to be better than you, are also very encouraging of your progress. The better you become, the harder they have to work, so in turn the better they become.
When I first watched the boxing and Jiu Jitsu classes, not to mention the self-defense classes, the relationship between opponents seemed very angry and violent. But the more involved I became the more I began to view these practices as a sort of dance of humility; a dance where the steps are mapped out for you, and every day you are trying to be better than you were the day before.
Isn't that the secret of life, or happiness, in some sense? To compete with whom you were yesterday in order to become a better version of yourself. But, to do it in a way that is motivating rather than defeating. Humility is the key to this path, and this path is long with many bumps and roadblocks, but again, "practice makes perfect."