Mind Over Matter

Until I became a mom, I used to say that if I didn’t actually have a left hand, I would barely notice. Other than playing a key role on the left side of the computer keyboard, I always felt it was essentially incapable. Then motherhood arrived – a time when needing an extra few hands becomes an understatement and certainly those of us blessed with two working ones need to get them both engaged in the rigors of carrying a toddler, three bags of groceries, a purse/diaper bag that weighs as much as said toddler, locking the house and somehow getting everyone and everything into the car safely.

Now I find it amazing what I can do with my left hand – sometimes I can even color, depending on the instructions I receive for the giant unicorn picture and my positioning relative to it and my 5-year-old creative director. But my left still taunts me sometimes, and I’ve realized this more than ever when I’m cranking those bicep curls and when I step on my yoga mat.

Fighting My Mindset

When I began my yoga practice, I knew I could tackle the flexibility aspect (thank you varsity pom-pon squad circa 1994!) and while I knew it would be strenuous, I was confident I could handle the sweat-it-all-out cardio part. But the balance? The balance was the mental and physical hurdle.

And, yes, as I expected, I could rock many of the poses on my dominant leg and arm – right! – and I would wobble and wiggle and fight my hardest to stay upright (or upside down) when on my left. My yoga instructor and I recently shared a giggle during the airplane pose: “Having a little turbulence?” she kindly jested. Yep, and I barely averted a crash!

Often, I find that I anticipate a tough set/pose when we’re on the left side, and while my left might in fact be weaker, my mind makes it even more so. And I’ve got to fight that! So when my left arm burns during the third set of triceps and my dancer pose is anything but elegant, I set my mind to work.

Certainly workouts are a big part physical but sometimes an even larger part mental. Having gone to six 5:30 a.m. boot camps in 2013 so far, I’ll confirm what the trainer said on my first day: “The hardest part is just getting here.” Amen, Brandon!

To get to the next level, my mind needs to train my left. I can’t let it get in the way of my success, even when its weakness provides some harrowing, yet funny, moments. When I’ve actually gotten out of bed before dawn or made the time to spend on my yoga mat, the physical and mental contribute almost equally. You’ve certainly felt this, too.

So fight those negative mental messages at the gym, on your mat, everywhere. Because mind over matter matters.

-Jill Rivkin, Desperately Seeking Balance