Andrea’s YogaClass: BOTH Soft AND Strong


During my first yoga class, I sat on the floor with my borrowed mat in my baggy sweat pants watching a 65 year old man balancing on his head. My friend, a type A person, who had brought me to her studio – leaned over and said, without hint of apology: “this is probably a pretty advanced class.” I nodded. Then a moment later, she leaned over again, and casually said: “this is a two hour class.” I laughed out loud into the quiet meditation of a pre-yoga studio. She looked back at me as if to say: “is that a problem?”

I powered through the class, proudly complying with all of the complicated and new instruction. It wasn’t till years later, when I had been practicing for a while that I realized that I was rigid, muscling through by gritting, over compensating for muscles that weren’t strong enough to hold me up. I was weak in my rigidity.

Yoga is constantly teaching you to balance effort with ease, to build strength so you can soften. …… so you can develop the muscles, the endurance and the flexibility to give you awareness and choice.
The stronger I got, the softer I could be. Complexity, like my yoga practice, marries seemingly opposite or paradoxical ideas. It leaves behind an “either/or” thinking and necessitates a “both/and” thinking — soft/strong, effort/ease, focused/unfocused.

As we explore ways that a complexity lens can help open the world, as individuals and as teams and organizations, we hopefully will embrace BOTH knowing and learning AND not knowing or constant curiosity.

What are the polarities – or apparent opposites – that seem contradictory but need to be reconciled — that come up in your life? What have you had to see as Both/And to help you move forward in your thinking, reconciling, learning?

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