February 1, 2013

A Mindful Look at Why the Super Bowl Matters. ~ Brad Korpalski

The most confusing day of the year for yogis/raw foodies/environmental activists/spiritual enthusiasts/hippity-do-das is upon us.

The Super Bowl.

To watch, or not to watch?

That, is the question.

Of course, we all want to. To tune in, and to see what the rest of America is up to, so that we can lift our chins, relax our shoulders, and push back into downward dog—with just a little more conviction about “who we really are.”

And who we really are not.

It’s easy to hate on the Super Bowl—and, to hate on sports for that matter.

The rhetoric is full of militaristic hyperbole, unconscious proclamations like—“that was a mistake that will stay with him for the rest-of-his-life”—and characters with bloated egos, oversized paychecks, and injected talents.

Yet there is some profound truth to the event…to the match…to the game.

What is its role? Why do we play? Why do we watch?

There are many reasons—at the core—that make sports a valuable part of human life. And none of them have to do with winning, losing, being the best, feeling like the worst, Ray Lewis, or that guy who plays for the other team.

Sports are valuable because they have something to teach. And for those who are willing to listen, the lessons have value whether you are trying to excel at ice hockey, or are simply striving for enlightenment.

So this Sunday—while some are feasting on partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and soda water, the commercials, and the drone of the Super Stories—others can nibble on kale chips and sip kombucha, soaking in the meaning of the game.

Here it is—the yogic guide to watching the Super Bowl:


You see those guys screaming expletives every time the camera pans their way—the ones with the headsets on, the tan slacks, and the polo shirt?  They are the gurus.

And if you look closely, all over the field you’ll find these gurus. The guy throwing the ball is a guru. The one catching it is, too. As is the guy trying to take off his head—he is a guru, too.

Who is your guru? 

Sports are all about mentorship—they call it coaching. They teach through their words, and they teach through their actions. Everyone teaches. And, everyone learns.

What a valuable lesson for us in the stands. We all need coaches.

Who do you call upon when trying to evolve in your personal or professional life?

Hard Work.

If you’re like me, you meditate occasionally. Practice physical asana a little more. Eat healthy 2/3 of the time. Do this, do that. With a spurt of energy here and a major distraction there.

Or perhaps you are like the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers? He works hard all of the time.

Pick up the newspaper. (Do people actually do that anymore?) Nearly every game story will reference the amount of work that such and such athlete put into their craft. Whether a college, high school, or professional athlete—it doesn’t matter.

Athletes who succeed work hard.

And shouldn’t we too?

Doesn’t the next great thing in our lives require just a…little…more…work?

Collaboration Through Competition.

Ok, sports are fiercely competitive. And on ‘the biggest stage,’ the competitive spirit is exacerbated to the nth degree.

Yet, through a refined lens, you’ll find that competition equals collaboration.

We push each other to be the next best version of ourselves. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the field.

Of course, this competition is framed as an effort to, ‘kill, maim, destroy, embarrass’ the opponent—but evolved souls see it as it truly is: a contribution to the mutual betterment of humanity.

You probably won’t hear the announcers admit such. Yet, the truth exists.

In what areas of your life do your require a little pushing—a little healthy competition?

Creative Visualization. 

This point may be hard to grasp, sans the ability to ‘Be John Malkovich,’ as it demands a trip into the cerebral cortex of Tom Brady. But, successful athletes visualize success.

Oh wait…he’s NOT playing, is he?

This isn’t a Steven Covey seminar. It’s simply the recognition of a pattern we all seek to break— but, our heads are getting in the way!

Did you see that touchdown?

Take note.

The quarterback didn’t visualize an interception. 


(Please indulge the football jargon.)

What is holding us back from realizing our true potential? 

Trust and Faith.

What is it all really without the ability to trust? To trust that it’s all going to be ok. 

To trust that the 300-pound man running full speed towards your 3rd vertebrae is going to somehow be redirected by another man of equal determination.

To have faith that, win or lose, life will go on.

To trust…trust…trust.

This Sunday—get yourself seated in a comfortable, cross-legged position. Breathe in through your nose, nice and easy, conscious of each breath—this life giving force.

Relax your shoulders.

And watch the game.

You just might learn something.

And if not…at least Beyonce is performing at halftime.


Brad Korpalski has never taught yoga–well, maybe once.  He does however practice daily, and loves yogis.  He has spent the last 9 years connecting children to the natural world, as an outdoor educator, and currently leads a balanced life from his home in Bali– with his wonderful family.

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