Two events occurred recently that made me think about the powerful relationship between Flexibility and Strength both on and off the mat. The first was a large event that affected many people, several much worse than my family, and the second was a small event that affected many fewer people. However both required Flexibility and Strength in the mind.
The first was the NY train derailment. This caused a variety of emotions; sadness for the victims, concern for the overall safety of the train my husband takes to and from work each day and anxiety as to how we were going to manage his commute with no train. It required the mind to be flexible with a sudden change to a very established routine and balanced and strong as we processed and moved forward with a new plan.
The second was a last-minute call I received at 8:30am the next morning, just as I was getting ready to begin my day, with a request to step in and sub a class at 9:30am (one hour later). I always prepare before my class with a few minutes on my mat and a few minutes in my mind cultivating my thoughts. I was struggling with the concept that time would not allow for my normal routine before teaching. I was going to have to be Flexible. As I stepped in front of the class an hour later, I asked the students to be Flexible as well. Flexible in changing their thinking as they were expecting someone different to be teaching them, and Flexible with what their bodies were offering that day as we started our Sun Salutes.
As the class continued I was again reminded of the perfect pairing Flexibility and Strength offer to a Yoga practice; we moved through an abdominal warmup and then later into a back bending series and I asked the students to protect their spine by engaging their core….the ultimate expression of how Strength and Flexibility work together. A strong core allows the spine to be flexible in a safe way; so it can move in all the ways it’s designed to without injury. When we take this idea off the mat we realize the same applies. A strong foundation and sense of self allows the mind and heart to be flexible in a safe and open way and cultivate inner happiness just like we were designed.
Often when people learn I am a Yoga Instructor, they feel the need to confess the limitations in their bodies; they tell me how inflexible they are, how “bad” they are at Yoga. My answer is always the same. No one can be “bad” at Yoga. Yoga is a practice and a lifelong journey. There is always more to explore and find within our bodies and within ourselves. Flexibility and Strength are both parts of this journey; the opportunity to connect to the Balance and Strength of Body and Thought is a wonderful gift. To pair that with Space and Flexibility both in the body and in the mind can create TRUE BALANCE, PEACE & HAPPINESS on and off the mat. That sounds like something we can all be “GOOD” at. Namaste.