My yoga journey began about five years ago. Like many people, I though this type of exercise would dramatically improve my flexibility. There is no question that flexibility is needed to relax into a pose. Any type of bending or conforming is impossible with stiffness. In the early days of my practice, I had no idea that a flexible spine could ignite the same in my heart and mind.
The other day in class, Surinder helped to explain the process by sharing a few stories. He suggested that if we are hard and rigid on the inside then our exterior actions reflect the stiffness. Flexibility adds to interior softness. With a softer heart and open mind, we are more capable of experiencing the unknown, letting go of attachments, and sharing experiences.
He continued by saying, “How do we make an impression on a hard surface?” The class agreed that a line could only be drawn on a marble slab with force. Imagine creating that impression with a diamond. The scratched surface is hard to create and almost impossible to remove. Using a similar metaphor, he continued, “Now try to imagine drawing a line in sand and watching it disappear with the next wave.” He suggested that going through life as a slab of marble means never being open to anything and also never letting go of any history. We all decided that life is better in soft sand.
He continued with a story about the beauty of water. In a liquid form, it flows brilliantly and conforms to any container. In a solid form, ice conforms one time and then maintains stiffness. When ice is shattered the edges are sharp and cool to the touch. With a bit of heat, softness returns and the flow resumes. With lots of heat, it levitates.
Yoga teaches us to be flexible and resilient. To smoothly bounce back from the chaos of life. It teaches us that when we quit resisting, and simply submit our bodies into a posture, this is how we can increase our flexibility. Much like when we resist something in life, it persists; and the moment we submit to life’s challenges, it opens up a new door of opportunities.
How do you become more flexible on the mat? Practice.
How do you become more flexible off the mat? Practice.
What book should you read? Practice.