Stop Trying So Hard!

After a ten day tournament in Puerto Rico, all I had was a day until it was time to be back at the airport for our next tournament in Russia. Considering all the white-bread-mayonnaise-processed-meat meals I had in Puerto Rico, I decided I was going to practice yoga twice. It would help rid my body of some toxins and free my mind of overanalyzing why I just played like garbage.

So into yoga I stepped and out I came with another lesson! During my second class of the 24 hour layover, our teacher decided to have us hold downward dog for about 3 minutes. No big deal, right? As my body became tired after the first 30 seconds, she reminded us that it was supposed to be a resting pose. Our frames were to support us and do the work, lower half leaning against upper half, rather than our muscles, she explained. So, what was I doing wrong? “Yoga is a combination of effort and surrender.” Her words hit me like a pile of bricks. Surrender?! Right. Stop trying so hard, Rosanna.

My downward dog experience that morning led me to begin to think about other areas I had felt the negative outcome of trying too hard, of engaging muscles that needed to be relaxed.

I came up with:

1) When I play my guitar, my hands cannot transition easily around the fretboard if they are tense.

2) When I sing, I cannot properly support my notes with my diaphragm if my throat muscles are engaged. My voice gets tired and my notes sound flat.

3) While playing water polo, my shot is less accurate if my arm and wrist aren’t relaxed as I release the ball.

I realized that her lesson was something I needed to relate to life in general, also–that life might also be a combination of effort and surrender. If there was a physical tension stopping me from carrying out physical tasks to the best of my ability, perhaps there are mental, emotional and spiritual tensions that also constrict me. Maybe there is a natural order of things that is beyond my control? Maybe I can’t govern every microscopic detail no matter how hard I try? And so my season of learning about the idea of trying too hard has begun.

Anyone have any advice or stories on how they’ve seen this come into play in their lives?

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