Hey everybody, I’m talking a bit with our online training group about what to do when something you’re doing hurts.
It could be a simple example like the one that came up today. “My back hurts when I lift my leg to a down dog split.” Or it could be something more complex, something else in your life.
How to navigate here, through both simple and complex, in practice and real life, probably has some things in common. So I’ll share a bit from our talk below.
To begin, when something hurts you this way, don’t do it. Back up to where things don’t hurt, then find another way forward.
In this example, rather than focus right away on the down dog split where your back hurts, back up a few movements. Maybe go to your hands and knees.
Then have a look at where are. Play with your body position. Create a stable base, so it’s easy to move side to side, forward and back, without much muscular effort, just rolling from your center a bit. This means your hands and feet might be set wider apart, and shorter from front to back, than what is usual for you.
Always create the right base for where you are, that easily supports where you want to go next.
Then use your breath to lift your hips into a down dog, and practice softness a bit here. Softness is bendable without always bending, movable without always moving. So especially on your exhales, allow a gentle bend to come into both your elbows and knees. Play around this position for a while.
If you’re not comfortable and easily movable where you are, where you go from here won’t be a better place.
So always work with a few steps back, with the positions and movements that lead up to challenge. Here in down dog, lean your center over to one side and the other, then roll a little forward and a little back. See if these movements result in your hands or your feet changing their position a bit, to support you. Not because you’re trying to move your hands and feet. Just because you’re moving your center, your arms and legs are connected to your center, and your body is soft enough, not too much tension, so this connection is carried through every part of you.
By the time you get to down dog split, you’re feeling stable, easily movable, every part of you gently connected to ever other. This takes practice, really many years of practice to create this kind of harmony in your body, to move easily from wherever you are. The good news is, you get to feel changes, improvement, the whole time. In everything you do. Including this down dog split.
Now from down dog, with soft knees and elbows, lean your hips a little to the right, unweighting your left leg and arm just a bit. Then come back through center and lean a little to the left, unweighting your right arm and leg. Stay leaning and unweighted here, and use a big inhale to pull your right leg into the air, then exhale forward into a low lunge, without much weight in your right hand, maybe even up on your right fingertips, as you come forward.
All of the movement principles working together will help you here. But, sometimes it’s helpful just to focus on a few, or even one at a time. Here, maybe focus on position, your base, where are your hands and feet. See how different positions make movement a different experience for you, sometimes more effort and tension, sometimes less, more ease.
Then softness, being movable before you try to move. Play with connection between your body and breath here. Then unweighting what you move before you move it. When you do move, use your center to move what needs moving, in this case your leg. This all together will be quite a lot to practice. So play a bit here.
Remember the play part. Without a sense of play, some fun, there’s not enough energy, not enough chi. This is important. Life flows. It doesn’t work so well when we’re blocked, opposing life. Let your body move with life.
Also remember to practice at least as much on hands and knees, and in down dog. Always how you feel when you get where you’re going is created by how you are along the way. Take your time with this one.
And last thought for now, if it hurts, just do something else for a while. Forget the down dog split. Do something that’s good for your back. Do something that’s simply good for you, without complicating things. What does this mean? The idea that we need to suffer a bit to overcome obstacles, to achieve, this complicates things. Let it go for a bit. It might not be true.
We have a couple of online course for that can help here, for learning to move easily in places where it doesn’t feel easy to move. So I’ll give two links below.
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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.
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