How to Bring Out the Driver in Yoga – and anything else, for that matter
This question of how to bring more Driver energy into yoga came up at our last FEBI certification session, and I thought it worthy of a fuller answer. So many of us in coaching and leadership development find Driver is one of our least favorite patterns. And yet we need it for so many things from empathizing with Driver clients to protecting what’s vital in our work and business. (See also In Defense of Driver).
So in the spirit of using our strong pattern(s) to access a weaker one, how can we use an Organizer-Visionary practice like yoga to bring out more Driver? The Driver center is the key: that place in the lower abdomen that fires when we start pushing. To find it even now, clasp your hands and push your palms together hard. Notice something in the base of the abdomen starts firing. Quit pushing and feel it go away. Start pushing and feel it kick in again. Do this until you have a good feel for where that Driver center is in you, and then send your next exhale deeply into this center, as if it could penetrate like an arrow.
This practice is similar to what we do in Zen training and martial arts to develop the area the Japanese call “hara” – the center of physical power – which includes both the Collaborator center (near the belly button) and the Driver center (at its base). Those of you who follow the work of Mandy Blake (Your Body is Your Brain) or Grant Soosalu and Martin Oka (m-Braining), will recognize there is also a sophisticated “brain” in this region of the body – 500 million neurons strong! Developing this region and engaging its intuitive mobilizing ability is of enormous importance.
So how to do this into yoga postures? A number of postures naturally emphasize this core, like the half-bridge, where we lie on our back, knees bent, feet on the ground, and slightly lift the hips. You can make this even more of a Driver exercise if you extend through the balls of your feet/big toes into the earth, and breathe deeply into the Driver center. Other postures, like downward dog, you can make more of a Driver posture by, again, extending/pressing the balls of your feet/big toes into the earth and breathing deeply into the Driver center. It’s easy to find the Driver center in this posture because it’s at the crease between the top and bottom halves of your body.
You can generalize this advice to many other activities. They take on more of the Driver’s edge and clarity when you press the balls of your feet/big toes into the earth as you do them. For example, when you’re cooking, standing at the counter using a cutting board, you can bring your weight to the balls of your feet/big toes, extend, and – there it is – the Driver center adding sharpness to your cuts. Or when you’re sitting in a meeting or at your desk, you can bring weight into the balls of your feet, press and – there it is – the Driver center helping you lean in. In our line of Zen training, we use this principle in every exhale to engage the Driver as our “temple guardian” to keep the mind clear.
Finally, don’t forget your strengths – the Visionary’s relaxed bigness, the Organizer’s calm, the Collaborator’s rhythm – so that you can learn to bring on the Driver without getting tense and tight.