Bikram Yoga: If you can, you must!

It is a twist from Tony Robbins’ quote “If you can’t you must, and if you must you can.” essentially the same lesson and something that has only clicked for me in the last week and become my new mantra:  If you can, you must!

If there is nothing stopping you from doing something, as in, you are physically and intellectually capable of doing it, then you can do it and (other than because it’s against the law,  hurtful to yourself and/or others or something you genuinely aren’t interested in) you must do it.  Put all excuses including fear aside.  If you can, you must!

One of our teachers says many times in her classes, “Your mind will always give up before your body does.”  and as much as I had this in my head, it wasn’t until this week where I realised just how much the mind intercedes with how much the body can actually do.

The trick is to listen to your body and go as far as it can and you’ll be surprised just how far it actually can!  Which is why if you can, you must!

The other day, another one of our teachers posted a picture of herself doing this pose (this isn’t her btw):

tumblr_inline_mksjg8Ce231qz4rgp When I saw her, I commented that she was rocking it and after she said thank you, asked if we could do it.  “Surely you can!”

My response was immediately “No, I can’t.”  I’d never tried, never even attempted it so how would I know? But I said it with certainty.  “I can’t because I wouldn’t even know the first thing about getting into that pose, let alone do it.”  I told her.

So, she explained it in words which was to get into Elephant Trunk’s Pose and then move your legs to the side and straighten them both.

She encouraged Tony to attempt it and he managed to hold himself up, get both legs to the side and feet crossed but couldn’t straighten them (yet).  Amazing.  Neither of us have ever attempted that posture so it was really exciting to see him get that far.

So I gave it a go.  Normally I’d have time to build the case in my head why I couldn’t do something, then be too scared to even try but at this stage, I only got as far as starting to chant “I can’t” out loud before the excitement of wanting to see how far I could get, set in.

I’ve noticed that this is something I do when I’ve never done something before, fear kicks in immediately and I start repeating “I can’t” out loud over and over and then I start thinking of things to build a case to support the chant which then usually leads to inaction.

Teacher: “Get your leg over your shoulder.”
Me: “I can’t,” Supporting argument: My hips are too tight.
Teacher: “Lift yourself up.”
Me: “I can’t” Supporting argument: My arms are too weak.

The only times this has been superseded with action is when there is that thrill/excitement/curiosity that exists simultaneously, when the fear of “I can’t” is coupled with an equal and opposite excitement of “but what if I can?”

So in amidst my chanting “I can’t”, my curiosity got the better of me and I made an attempt and guess what?  I didn’t do it, I got a cramp as I was pushing my legs to the side BUT I got farther than I ever would have imagined.  I managed to lift myself up and do Elephant’s Trunk pose which I’ve never done before in my whole life.


Granted, I didn’t look as serene as the woman in this picture which I included so you know what I’m talking about when I say Elephant’s Trunk Pose, nor did I hold it for long but the point is, I did it for the first time ever.

I’d proven that day that my mind has no idea what my body is capable of and yet I let it dictate what I can and can’t do.

The point is, you actually can be, do and have anything and everything you want (as long as it’s good for you, others and the planet) and if you can, you must!

All the times I’ve attempted elephant’s trunk pose, I’ve been stuck on the floor because I believed my mind when it said, “My butt’s too heavy, my leg’s too heavy, my arms aren’t strong enough, my hips are too tight. My core’s not strong enough, my tummy hangs out.”

We have so many stories but the truth is, “There is no spoon. ”

There is no spoon

The reason why I didn’t go to yoga for so long is because I let my mind interfere.  I let my mind tell me “It’s too hard, it’s too far, it’s too rushed, I’ll be late, I haven’t drunk enough water, I’m too tired, I’m too hungry, I’ve got too much to do”  and everything else in between and I believed it.

Last week I said, I was starting again.  New commitment, new day and those excuses still kept coming up but I told myself, “If I can, I must. “  If I can make time for yoga then I must make the time.  If I have time for yoga then I can go.  If I can go then I must go.

I made it 5 days out of 8, plus our first advanced class in months so that’s 6 classes of yoga in 8 days which is 3 times as much as I’ve been doing in the last few months so now I’m really happy with myself.

If you do what you can all the time (not more than you can so you tire yourself out and end up with adrenal fatigue, stress or injury) but if you truly honour yourself by doing what you are capable of in each moment, every day and nothing less, how could you not be happy with yourself? And if you can be happy with yourself then you must!

Ignore your mind when it says things like, “Wow, that’s pretty far, stay there and don’t move or you’ll hurt yourself” and definitely ignore it when it says things like “I can’t”.

I’m now approaching going to yoga with “if I can I must.”  If I have the time and energy, then I can and if I can, I must.  I approach each class with if I can give it all I’ve got, then I must.  If I can focus, I must.  I approach each posture with if I can breathe, I must.  If I can bend, I must.  If I can stand,  I must.  If I can push, I must.  If I can be still, I must.  If I can recover, I must.  How do I know what I can and can’t do unless I give it a go?  What can I actually do right now?  And if I can, I must!

Reminder, this isn’t about doing so much that you hurt yourself.  Your body tells you where its limits are for the day in the form of hyperventilation, dizziness, nausea, pain and cramps and your mind will tell you to stop long before any of this happens.  So, for as long as you can hold a posture without the above symptoms, feeling aligned, feeling strong and push that little bit farther, you must.

I’m sticking with this mantra until it’s completely ingrained and the next step will be to take these lessons on the mat and apply them off the mat because it pretty much applies to everything!!

Do what you can

If you can, you must!


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