A Coaching Model Created by Mun Yee Thang
(Life Coach, MALAYSIA)
When I arrived at the acronym BEAM for my coaching model, I was thrilled with the fit. My model is inspired by my yoga journey and BEAM may be:
- The beacon of mindfulness that lights my practice
- A physiological representation of structure - the spine, a carriageway of muscular and organic energy, delivering millions of signals from the central nervous system into a harmonious balance
This defines the journey yoga takes me on, towards the union of energies in balance. And that is just as true for the path that coaching is taking me as I find alignment within my true self, establishing my yoga experience as I live my life.
Yoga takes me on a route of discovery, a commitment to lifelong learning and practice. There is no desired finishing line for the experience and balancing of new energies. And BEAM serves me on this journey, fostering an atmosphere, a living, breathing space that nourishes and still invites me to grow.
B is for Balance
The yoga practice seeks balance to enable a true expression of the self.
Yoga as a union of energies in balance, is a coming together of physiological strength and a flexible force. The practitioner draws physiological strength from musculature to assume particular positions. But that is not all. He extends an energy, a flexible force, that courses through his being bringing vibrancy and grace to the pose. The energies, in balance where:
- Flexibility gives muscles ease of movement; and
- Strength provides a solid structure into which flexibility extends
When out of balance, where one force overpowers the other, there are possibilities of injury arising from misalignment.
Yoga is an ongoing process of correcting these imbalances. It calls for understanding, enabling one to see where the lack of it has knotted our practice, causing us to feel stuck. Understanding unties the knots preventing the discovery of capabilities that help achieve our potential, the unfolding of our true self.
How do we gain this understanding of ourselves?
This parallels life. We have powerful questions in coaching to bring self awareness and reframe perspectives that empower. In yoga, as in life, these have served my understanding:
This is about concentration and giving my full attention. It is a choice, trusting that it has a purpose and deserves my best. Only in doing, can I experience myself.
In challenging movements, I find myself consciously breathing deeply, relishing the engagement of muscles in moves not yet familiar. It is possible to be so focused on attempting the uncomfortable that I hold my breath without noticing. The body naturally reacts by tensing, stiffening and holding back. I don’t get very far by muscling in. I’m stumbling all over, not hearing, not seeing and getting increasingly frustrated until I take a step back, a breather, so to speak. And ask myself what is important about doing this. Slow down to understand so that I continue my moves purposefully.
When I inhale deeply I engage my muscles, calling on its strength. Then as I exhale, I release it and like a coil set free, it flows out, coursing into a stretch, a twist, an extension, anywhere I channel it to. Each move takes me into a plane of relaxation so that moving from point to point appears to be an effortless process. Difficulties are but elements to be broken down for understanding so that it is treated as a savoured challenge to reach this level of movement.
Breathing allows me to realise how far my body can take me in a pose, and if that’s not good enough, it gives me the awareness that that is where I can go on that day. To go further, I may need to work on other areas to give me the support I currently lack. Breathing takes me to the doorway of mindfulness.
This is a consciousness that only notices, untainted by judgment. This serves me by telling me what is. Objectivity. And for that moment I simply allow what is to be.
With every pose I start to do well, I discover a switch to call on an energy I never knew I could tap. I also know there are countless poses that are unknown to me waiting to be discovered. I accept there is a lesson to be learnt in everything, a potential teacher hidden, even in the fact I will never finish learning in this lifetime. What I know is but a grain of sand in the universe. I will never cease to be in awe.
Yoga is my teacher. Without the awareness of the role of balance, yoga is little more than holding poses. And we can draw parallels with going through the motions in life.
I want to be better .. or more successful .. perhaps happier .. even stronger ..
We open the coaching space almost unreservedly to the individual’s search which are as varied as the individual is unique. The subject of the search is clarified until no vagueness remains and measurable means of achievement make one accountable within a defined realistic time frame. The searches may extend to the values that gave rise to them and uncover underlying beliefs and behaviour that help to understand supporting and non-supporting themes.
An individual’s search is borne out of a seeking for balance. He keeps searching, changing his search definitions and tries to understand why or what he seeks.
E is for Embrace
Yes, embrace the journey. For example, I ask myself if I could ever imagine being able to ease comfortably into an inverted position, starting with the head-stand when I began my yoga journey. Impossible! I had a million reasons – all seemingly valid, why that was the case at the time and there were so many people to support my thinking that I was right too. Let’s see:
- My bum was too big and heavy
- I don't want to be permanently incapacitated with a spine and neck injury
- This is something I might want to attempt if only I were 20 years younger
- Everybody said it was too difficult, an advanced pose that a beginner was not prepared for
The sense of a “No Entry” sign against the area of inversions was so counter to what yoga had began to mean to me that I decided I will learn inversions. But, it was the truth then, I was in no shape to get into a head-stand, physiologically as well as psychologically. So, I took stock and made that journey.
The end of the story wasn’t that one day I was finally upside down. It was what I learnt on that journey that made it all so valuable. Lessons from little successes and failures, creating so many milestones and marking them as I passed, being in touch with what I was feeling and thinking as I did.
There was learning to be had from doing and just as much from not being able to do. Each bit of learning was an improvement. So, I had trust and confidence that what I was doing was working. There were no short cuts.
I experienced critical alignment, making mistakes that would show me what was out of alignment and correct them. When I eventually gazed out from my inverted perspective of the world, it was apparent to me that so many more new journeys had just opened for me to take.
A is for Acceptance.
I accept me for what I am today. I try to show grace and compassion to myself, not beating myself up over limitations and mistakes but instead celebrate what I am able to do.
This is by no means acceptance as an end in itself. I know that I want to be better and I am putting effort into getting there. Tomorrow I may do better but here I am now, doing what I may do best.
I am working on another inversion, the hand-stand. At one point I must have shown so much aggression in tackling the drills that my teacher saw fit to share with me. “You know, when you are able to do this, you’re going to see someone do the one-arm handstand. Next, someone is going to demonstrate the finger-stand.”
His point was there’s always going to be something more challenging to move towards. Will you wear yourself down wanting it all? By all means, try, but know that you are present today and celebrate that. Accept gracefully and humbly. Celebrate others as well and the beauty they share. Then, you will be happy.
M is for Mat
The Mat is my space in yoga. This is where I practise. Every day, I come into this space, submitting myself to the search and celebration of balance. Here, I embrace the journey of self discovery and accept truths as they appear. This is my workspace to untie knots that hinder my practice.
Everything happens on my mat. Understanding unfolds here, bit by bit, not by doing nothing. But on this small rectangle space that is my mat, I learn to harness energy. I learn to let go of energy. Each has a role in taking me somewhere. Here, I find where I want to go.
On my mat, I breathe, observing how movement becomes easier, more natural when I do. My breath takes me on a dance to a rhythm that holds and channels, undoubtedly putting me in control, me, rhythm master, conductor.
My mat is my space of learning and unlearning. It is my safe space for experimenting and making mistakes. Here, I celebrate where my abilities can take me today, trusting that as I continue to practise, I will go further tomorrow. But I have worked hard today, doing my best. And now, my mat will be my place of rest as I lie down and let my body regenerate, recuperate.
Revel as much in the space around you, as you would honour your Mat.
I learn that in yoga, all is not physical. Blockages in the fibre of our muscles as well as in our minds, when untied like knots, give clear passage as we make our journey. In my search for balance, I move closer to alignment with my self. Indeed, establishing my yoga experience as I live my life.