The things that challenge us and provoke our ego can cause us to judge and dismiss as a way to keep a sense of self-assurance. It can also be equally be a safety mechanism as a way to protect from pain or injury.
I’ve been facing this especially the last couple months and after beating myself up inside saying “I’m not strong enough” “I won’t benefit” “stay in my safety zone” – I reflected back to a skill I learnt called Opposite Action, all the way. Fear, anxiety and trauma can be stifling to the growth and development of all of us…
My teachers and mentors through the last 10 years have always told me in their own unique methods that I am capable of absolutely anything I set my mind to achieve. I didn’t disbelieve them, but I did disbelieve myself.
Growing up and conquering childhood obesity and other mental/cognitive/behavioural delays I wasn’t able to have a self-esteem and confidence to trust and know my Self. This same process also transcended into my teenage years as I began working with the retail industry and thought I had no hope in hell to learn the art of visual merchandising. I couldn’t articulate the language needed, my spatial awareness for colour and depth was extinct and I didn’t understand the relationship between one product and the other. However with the right mentoring and support albeit a late bloomer… I figured it out and was then training other people on how to become competent in the skills that I once didn’t embody. This was also the case in my delayed processing for simple everyday actions like tying shoe laces so I always wore velcro or slip ons, doing up buttons on a pair of pants and opting for zipper or elastic waistbands to prevent becoming stressed.
I allowed myself to hold onto the victimization that my short comings were producing, however what I was not cluing into all this time up to present day was more in depth. Having been through physical and mental trauma in childhood and due to my peers bullying me in school, the way my body embodied sensation and pain was deeply ingrained into my adulthood so far. Whenever I ended up in a situation physically whether it were in a yoga or a fitness class, I noticed my body retreating and dissociating from the activity as a way to protect and diffuse the pain that … I thought had been lifted – but actually just been numbed. This is when I started to be more critical and judgmental towards more high intensity based forms of movement or strength-based activities.
Being up to this point primarily a gentle and therapeutic teacher of yoga, meditation, breath and mindfulness, I knew there was something that I was not embracing or understanding- something was missing, the yang to my yin… but how am I able to integrate them together in the approach and methodology that I can make sense of while also allowing my other persona to be heard and acknowledged… without bringing myself into a place of chronic injury, trauma and relapse? I don’t want to bully myself in the way I felt bullied physically by the other kids or peers – this somatically was becoming more prevalent when I attempted to redefine my physical health beyond a yoga class. I didn’t want to feel unsafe, harmed and beaten to a pulp… but I’m not that person no longer and the way I can redefine my relationship with my own body/mind in a challenging scenario is one that I know my limits and how to push them in a nurturing and self-empowering way.
Over the years I gained tools and skills that weren’t innate but are now second nature through daily implementation and reinforcement. I’m also not the child nor the teenager I once was… it seems like a simple observation but the way some people can have what seems like a chasm of unknown and unresolved issues is nothing short of remarkable and astonishing. Through discovering and rediscovering this this month, I’ve been able to make that shift internally where I can verbalize aloud that I am the reality I choose to define myself as. I don’t need to take the influence of what is around me verbatim and potentially lose my voice inside as a result, it’s okay to see differently and stand strong in what makes sense for me as a person and a teacher regardless.
I never thought I would have been able to teach more than a slow and simple restorative yoga class, but now look where that has shifted into. I hated cardio and spinning for a long time since stopping track in high school… now I’m taking and leading spin classes several days a week and my heart and lungs are happier then ever.
My physical strength is something I’ve always, always been self conscious about, my upper body especially. I always have felt weak and scrawny, not able to reach a state of strength or vitality that others embodied who inspired me.
Perhaps one of the most vulnerable things about me from being a obese kid and going through image/eating disorders as well or even a gum chewing addiction to stall my hunger as a way to feel empowered.
All these memories have been surfacing through my soul since January as I have been able to start rewiring these thought and holding patterns.
It truly hit me when I was taking a couple fitness based classes this week and the space in my head was blank, my emotions were extinct and my body was numb on adrenaline and anticipation. It was that pedal stroke and acceleration I took that I saw a young version of myself about 11 years old.
When I was in my former body, I attended a specialized fitness and nutrition camp for youth which was through UBC. I remember being exposed to fitness and other Cardio based training and indoor cycling was one of our formats. The room was small and decked out in black lights with splatter graffiti all over and a disco ball and strobe lights too. I felt like I was in a wonder world and able to lose myself in my own imagination. Nothing else mattered in that entranced and mesmerising brain state, I felt I could do anything regardless how much output or exertion was being demanded.
With that said and now coming back to present day when I was in that spin class-
There were new depths in my character and integrity… trust and belief in endless possibilities for my scope as a movement teacher.
This is one reason I have started to merge my yoga background into mindful fitness modalities; like Spin, Mat Pilates training in July… I am fed up with and finally over with shaming and disregarding my own physical potential/capacity. I am my own worst critic and enemy, I thought when I started taking fitness classes that with my lack of proprioception and coordination (at first) I was not meant to be taking let alone considering to teach them.
However after sticking with my fear and not permitting it to deny me the ability to go into my own shit, these areas for improvement and refinement have now seen a turn for the best. I am more then just a teacher of gentle and therapeutic nature, yes that is my niche and specialization so far in my career with yoga. That doesn’t mean I need to only be that softer spoken guy religiously. One important influence for me that teaching a more fitness inclined style is the ability not just to teach, however I can utilize the tools of coaching and motivation in ways that are not the same when teaching a yoga based class. The higher intensity of say an indoor cycling class, step, sculpt, HIIT brings the entire space into a special zone that I can’t describe… a trance so to speak.
There’s a huge fire and passion that I’ve been looking for ways to release and translate into my love and profession as a teacher, and the coaching/speaking element is definitely one I want to continue developing. It has been slowly chipping away at me not being able to share it with my students and I finally realized what I need to do in order to effectively integrate myself and achieve this reality.
This is why I have decided and chosen to apply opposite action, all the way and go into my very prominent childhood fire.
Over the Spring/Summer I will be certified as a Group Fitness Teacher via Canfit Pro next month learning from one of my mentors Tim Hawke, strengthen the skills I have in coaching through another close support Lucy Ulmer in May, delve further into my intrigue of the Tensegrity Repair Series (TRS) with one of my very first teachers in 2010 Andrew Clements in June and complete Mat Pilates in July with Marta Hernandez.
I am also going to then include these modalities I.e. Mat Pilates, Core, Sculpt, Step to complement the Cardio of indoor cycling and the therapeutics of Hatha/Yin/Restorative/Non-Asana based yoga practices/lineages.
If I want to teach and grow, I want to make sure I have the knowledge and education I need in order to effectively integrate it all. With these building blocks coming into their foundation crystal clear I can trust myself more.
I am really excited and committed to this profound path of self discovery and being a teacher of… movement.
If you truly listen to that beat inside your limitless heart, you will be able to expand into any person that serves you time and time again. The professionals and allies who’ve had my back and held me through these times of self doubt and incapability I really see now that they knew I had all of this potential inside to begin with.
……… I just never saw it, then when it began to flicker inside and the pilot light struck – I got scared to see that potential appear. Well that’s stopping from here onwards.
2016 is the year of #NoMoreExcuses and the full birth of #TrueIdentityMovementProject #AlwaysAWorkinProgress
Thank you for all your support and energetic encouragements in this life as I continue to mature and learn who I am … both as an adult and very much always a big kid at heart.
Hiiro Zaké Sigal Prince
True Identity Project