After practicing hatha yoga the first few times, I fell in love with how it made me feel. It wasn’t like a “runner’s high,” I knew what that was, and this was quite different. I was also astounded at how little I could bend my body compared to others. After all of the weight lifting I had done, I was so stiff it was at times embarrassing, as no posture came easily to me. But then I had an epiphany: I was the stiffest person in class, and I may always be. And for the first time in my life that became okay. I decided to give myself permission not to have to be the best or compete like I’d been trained to do in sports (compete until you win, or die trying). I knew that I would never excel at this, but I LOVED it.

So, I gave myself permission to be the stiff guy in the back row, the guy who was trying hard but was kind of embarrassing to watch. This allowing felt so liberating, I believe it inadvertently accelerated my practice tenfold. It was almost indescribable; I started to feel like plates of armor were being pulled off of me, creating a new sense of physical freedom and emotional ease. My joints were opening and my muscles were elongating, but I was also opening stagnant energy channels and pulling open my heart center, especially from the impact of the breathing practice.

That is when things really started to move. Unexpectedly, I started making choices from a different perspective, and was noticing that my life was subtly changing. This, I learned, is because as soon as your criteria for making choices changes, it changes the course of your life. From little decisions to big decisions, you begin to make them differently. Instead of going here, you go there. Instead of eating this, you choose that. Instead of befriending this person, you befriend that person, and so on. All those little decisions change the course of your life. Finally, one day, my heart learned what joy was, and I felt my spirit heal from within. Then my life began to grow toward the light, like a plant reaching toward the sun.

Posted by: Max Strom

Max Strom returns to 8 Limbs Capitol Hill on July 31 for two workshops: Heart Core Yoga and A Life Worth Breathing. Born with severe clubbed feet, Max Strom spent much of the first six years of his life with his feet confined in plaster casts and braces. Today, he is known for inspiring and impacting the lives of his students. Due to an ever-increasing demand for his teachings, Max travels extensively teaching and lecturing on personal transformation, spirituality, and yoga. He has taught tens of thousands of students, trained several hundred teachers. You can see more of his work on his DVDs, Learn to Breathe, to heal yourself and your relationships, and, Max Strom Yoga – Strength, Grace, Healing.

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