Thursday, September 15, 2011


     The simplest ideas are often the best ones, and the ones that grow and endure and become strong over time. Two and a half years ago, at the gym where I work, a man suggested that we start a basic stretching class, something less fancified than yoga, which, for a man like him, was distasteful because of the outfits and mats and bare feet and yoga attitude. Good old basic stretching was what he wanted.
    So we did it. The class began in the middle of the gym floor with a handful of folks. We did range of motion moves and static stretches, and stretches with resistance bands, and a couple of breathing exercises to raise our energy. I threw myself into the instructor role with my usual gusto, and a sense of creative adventure and fun. And though we have added additional stretches over time, the basic format has never changed.
     The man who suggested the class stopped coming because of time conflicts with his work, but a group of faithful attendees began to feel the benefits in their bodies from the class. They spread the word, and we soon outgrew the gym floor. And then, by popular demand, we added a second weekly class with the exact same format. Many people come both days and swear that our simple stretches and movement exercises are changing their life.
     Our high-tech, high-speed world is complicated and overwhelming. As our stretch class proves, we don't necessarily need more fancy theories and intricacies of movement. What is basic and repetitive is soothing to our scattered souls. We feel comfortable knowing what to expect. It's empowering and wholesome. It's simple but not easy. Within the realm of safe predictability, we lose our self-consciousness and feel willing to go a little farther than we have gone before... and we improve.
     I think we have a tendency to think that fancy is better, and that the more complex something is the more important it must be. But maybe not. Maybe the basics are the ticket and the key to real happiness. Maybe what's simplest is what's most profound, and maybe what's most accessible is the very thing that we are seeking... only it is so close that we cannot see...

I remember the basics and don't over complicate things. I stick to what matters and let the rest go. I stretch and have fun. I keep my life simple and feel good.