One day I wondered how having my legs behind my head can improve my life. Let’s have a look at flexibility and its application in everyday life.
Have you ever been in a challenging situation thinking: „Damn, if I were able to do take my legs behind my neck now, this problem would be solved!“? Is it necessary to touch your forehead to your knees when you put on your pants? Would your kids volunteer to do the dishes when they see you in an impressive backbend? Would you never ever have a bad hair day ever again, if you did your styling in a Pretzel position? Would your family and friends love you more if you were more flexible?
I don’t know what kind of challenges you have in your life, but I guess all your answers were the same: no. No, we don’t need too much flexibility to make it through the day, to have more love or fun or ease in our lives.
Free from tension
No doubt it does make sense to take care of the body to feel free and strong in every day life. We always want to be able to bend down to pick up our kids or tie our shoes. Being able to do that, we don’t need to be hyperflexible, right? Stretching is important to free our bodies from tension. Doing sweet, gentle stretches is highly effective. No acrobatics needed.
Bigger on the inside
I believe that no yoga pose is a physical pose. The essence of the pose is everything that cannot be seen from the outside. Like the TARDIS, it is bigger on the inside. It is not about having a flexible body; flexibility is a wonderful side-effect of a practice like yoga. But flexibility is a state of mind. A flexible mind is awake, truly alive and untouched by old thinking patterns. It is free.
A flexible mind is awake, truly alive and untouched by old thinking patterns. It is free.
Flexibility is also an amazing kind of strength. Looking at nature, we can see this strength. I recently admired the beauty of a field of wheat. It was moving with the wind like waves. I was fascinated by the effortless balance between too much and not enough flexibility. If an ear of wheat was less flexible it would break. Would it be more flexible it would collapse.
If an ear of wheat was less flexible it would break. Would it be more flexible it would collapse.
No toe touch
When it comes to ourselves we usually think of flexibility in terms of touching our toes. We don’t usually think of flexibility as an inner practice. Sadly, we created a flexibility competition, even in the yoga world. Practitioners worry about who can reach farther and bend deeper. We compare and compete and loose focus of the nurturing aspects of flexibility. I seriously doubt that the original intention of yoga is creating flexible bodies. I believe that yoga invites us to see the true nature of flexibility that is not about touching your toes. There is more to flexibility than freeing the body from tension: freeing the mind.
Into the flow
Life is in a constant flow. Like life itself, our mind can be incredibly flexible and adaptable. However, when we hold on to an idea of how things are supposed to be, we create tension. The mind becomes rigid, seeing problems instead of opportunities. Plus, holding on to old patterns is quite an energy drain and we might run out of steam to pursue our dreams.
Adjust the sails
A flexible mind however, is an amazingly powerful helper. Sometimes things don’t manifest the way we planned. We are facing a new or unfamiliar situation. Maybe some change we didn’t expect. We can’t control everything. But we can adjust the sails. A flexible mind accepts changes and can see new opportunities to make the best of what is.
With a flexible mind we begin to learn again and expand beyond the limits our own mind created shaped by the past. By letting go of old patterns we can allow new things in. Independent from outer circumstances a flexible mind is very powerful and able to transform a difficulty into an opportunity. Flexibility helps to be more playful and we can live our dreams with the mind at ease, awake and curious. With a flexible mind we are free from the past and can be all we want to be any moment.
We can practice inner flexibility any time we want. There are plenty of opportunities off the mat. Let’s think about a simple example. Say, you planned to go for a run in the forest, but it’s pouring with rain. The rain is something you didn’t expect, so it is your chance to practice flexibility. Yay! But make sure to remember this: Flexibility yay! But you don’t want to loose focus on your purpose and goal.
Here’s how you do it.
First, remind yourself: What is my purpose? Why did I plan to go running?
Second, decide on how to be flexible while still sticking to your purpose.
Let’s make up two completely different intentions and the assumption that you don’t want to go out in the rain.
- Made up intention number one: Your intention is to have some me-time. Fine, you could change the activity like doing a Yuna class in your own, dry living room : ) You still spend quality time with yourself, only in a different way than planned.
- Made up intention number two: You want to go running because you are training for a marathon. Ok, hop on the treadmill. You’ll still stick to your training schedule.
Yes, I know this is a very simple example. Almost too basic…but this is exactly my point: If we want to train inner qualities, we want to practice this quality in situations that are not highly emotional but actually very simple. Why? Because it is easier to strengthen an inner quality when the challenge isn’t overwhelming.
When you begin to train your bicep you don’t start lifting 100 kilos, right? You begin with something you can manage. Do the same when it comes to inner qualities.
Program the mind
Practice and play in the small everyday-thingies to program your mind to be flexible and find out what the sweet spot between too much and not enough flexibility feels like. If you face a bigger challenge it is good to know that you trained for it and are ready for it.
I hope you’ll enjoy feeling your mind stretching way beyond what you thought possible. Like the graceful dance of the ears of wheat in the wind, our mind is made to dance as well.
Comment below and share your views, worries, stories, positivity and thoughts with me. Or send me a DM on Instagram @suzannefreiherz
Photo by Harald Eisenberger.