There are so many reasons we find our way to practices like yoga, qi gong, tai chi. Maybe it’s to get more flexible, more mobile, or just more feeling good. Maybe it’s to let go of stress, and make a positive connection with our bodies, our selves. Maybe we create harmony this way, some ease in our lives. So how do we get these things we want?
Let’s talk about flexibility, but it’s a little bit the same for everything. So a good start might be somewhere in shifting focus a bit. It’s possible that to get flexible, you don’t need to think about getting flexible.
Usually when we want something, all our focus goes right here. So if it’s flexibility we want, we will get flexible at all costs! Which I think we mostly know doesn’t work so well.
No matter how much we push, whatever it is that’s making us tight, immovable, not feeling good, is still there. It’s still in our life.
But, it’s what we’re used to doing. Even if it doesn’t feel good. Which often means attacking things we don’t like. Even things in our selves that we don’t like. So there’s another way, which works a little better. But it’s difficult to practice right in the middle of life.
Life is really too complex, too much going on, to start practicing something out of nowhere, a new habit or way of being. So yoga is good for this. It’s simple and contained enough that we can put our toe in the water, and try making some different choices, about where we put our attention, how we move, how we relate ourselves.
Which is why this question about flexibility is so useful. It’s a good chance to change focus, and make some different choices. Rather than look so closely at whether your heels can touch the ground, or how tight your hamstrings are, try shifting some attention for a while over to ease, softness, mobility. Forget a little about where you want to be that isn’t here. Get into how you feel where you are, now. And for this, there’s a simple practice, whether in yoga or tai chi or whatever you’re doing.
Slow down, soften. Enough that if you feel something, you have a chance to notice it. Put a little bend in your elbows and knees. Let go of pushing to be flexible, or pushing to be anything. Create some space around where you are, enough that you can begin to respond through how you move.
Create a connection between your body and breath. Each inhale expanding, creating space around you, in you. Look around your body as you breathe in. See what’s here. Each exhale softening, making it a bit easier, to be where you are. Maybe there’s something you don’t need to carry right now. Let go a bit.
Move easily, everything in you, in everything direction you can. Rather than aim directly for touching toes or heels to ground or whatever the big landmark might be – change the landmark. Put it inside you. See how you feel as you move. When you find a place that feels good to linger and breathe, linger and breathe here. When you feel like moving on, move on.
Flexibility in an adult body isn’t created by stretching. It’s initiated by a chemical signal from your brain, indicating that it’s safe to release protective tension, and create increased range of motion through lengthening. So on a chemical level, this kind of breathing, and this moving connection between your breath and body, is central to flexibility. It gets us where we want to go easily, without the struggle of trying to get where we want to go.
So this way of making new choices, forming new habits about how we move and relate to ourselves, also has some impacts on the rest of life. Practice like yoga, tai chi, is a good place to begin.
– by Mike
About Strala Yoga Training
Strala combines the movement and healing wisdom of tai chi with the form vocabularies of yoga, tai chi, qigong, and Traditional Chinese and Japanese Medicine, to help people release stress, move easily through challenge, and live radiantly inspiring lives.
It begins with a mindset, that says our best way to get where we’re going is to feel good along the way. It also works miracles for whole health, helping us to find ease in our bodies and minds, and create the right conditions both for healing and optimal performance.
In our Strala Yoga Training Courses, you learn to shape your destiny on every level that counts, from your psychology, chemistry and neurology, to your chromosomes and even gene expression. The unique set of skills you develop – for connecting with yourself and others, unblocking your energy, healing what needs healing and accomplishing challenge with ease – uncovers your ability to create the life you want, and be an inspiring leader to the people around you.