Doing Hard Things the Easy Way

We’re good at what we practice.  It’s possible to do hard things the hard way, and it’s also possible to do hard things the easy way.  Often we get stuck in the first, because how could it be any other way?  Hard things are hard!  So it’s all we practice, doing hard things the hard way.  But it’s just as possible to practice the other way: easy in the midst of impossible challenges, movable in the face of immovable obstacles.

So how do we practice this?  Here’s a way to begin:

1) Soften.  If you’re already tense before you begin, it’s not going to get any better.  You’ll move into rock like a rock, which tends to result in something breaking!  Exhale.  Soften through every part of your body.  Put a little bend in your elbows and knees.  Be movable.  If someone was to give you a push, you’d ripple easily rather than topple over.  Move into rock like water, and you’ll flow right where you need to go.

2) Inhale deep.  Often when something is hard, we hold our breath.  Our muscles tighten, preparing for war!  We become immovable, and can only move with tremendous force and effort.  There’s another way.  Begin challenging movements with your breath rather than your muscles.  A very deep inhale will start the lift, expansion, and strengthening of your body, overcoming inertia with little effort.  The work you need from your muscles then follows more naturally and easily.  You’ll get the same force without tension and without tiring.

Of course, this takes practice.  But like yoga in general, you don’t have to take it on faith.  You can experience it every step of the way for yourself, just by jumping in.  You’ll notice right away how much easier it is to move through your whole body when your arms and legs are easy rather than stiff like solid rocks.  And you can feel how very deep breaths give lift and lightness to your body, even when you’re simply standing still.  With practice, you can create the same tireless strength in any situation.

In time, you can use all this to pull off some neat tricks in yoga class, no struggle required.  More interestingly, you’ll find it helps you along your way in creating a happy, healthy, capable life.

Talk soon,


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6 Responses to Doing Hard Things the Easy Way

  • Alina said on 5-03-12 at 3:14 pm

    Great entry Mike ! Very helpful …I guess our ego pushes us to get in the pose and look good in it and we forget to actually feel the pose rather than just “pose the pose” if that makes sense….
    I watched Tara’s videos and yours and I love how fluent your moves are ,like a delicate dance …. It did help me be more mindful of flowing into the practice rather then the stop and go of different poses….
    Thaks again ! You guys rock !
    Alina – a Romanian-at-origin-fresh-yogi near Philadelphia :-)

  • Hello To StralaYoga team!

    My name is Rosemarie Ordinario from the Philippines and I’m a certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher. I am also a full time grade school teacher in one of the exclusive schools here in Manila.

    Our studio, Core Yoga, is 5-months old now and I thought to touch base with you with the aim of tying up with the programs Yoga Cures(i.e. Teacher Training and workshops) and offering here in Manila through our studio. My idea is to bring in your expertise who would certify those interested in teaching strong yoga here in Manila.

    I hope you can let me know what you think about this idea and how we can move it forward.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.


    • Hi Rosemarie, thanks for this! Would be happy to talk with you about training people to lead Strala out where you are, as well as Strala franchise opportunities. Just email me through the Contact Us link at the top right of this site. Thanks and happy Friday!

  • Mike, great piece!
    While I love jumping around and finding something challenging to do, I definitely relate to the experience of doing difficult things softly. It is very different compared to the usual “push through”frame of mind. And, I think it actually comes from the mind. Mind has to be relaxed to do difficult things easy. Savasana mind:).
    After doing yoga nidra (yogic sleep) 2 times a day in India, I felt like everything I was doing, I was doing in a Yoga Nidra state. Even running. It is an amazing feeling of lightness, weightlessness, and floating. To get to that feeling in the challenging poses, I always relax my mind first:)
    Yoga hugs!

    • Hello Nadya! You’re right, being still and easy in the middle of great challenges . . . is a great challenge! Much harder than jumping and pushing when things get tough. But worth the effort I think :)

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