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Flexibility

Updated: Jun 29


"To improve is to change, to be perfect is too change often." ~ Winston Churchill


The most common excuse I hear from people about why they can't do yoga is because they aren't flexible. If this is you, I'll respond that maybe you're right!


But I'm not talking about an outer flexibility, I'm talking about an inner one.


Resistance is a reflex move that we use to protect us or prevent something from happening. It can look like making excuses, holding our breath, avoidance.... for me... it's usually trying to quit.


Inner flexibility is a muscle that also needs to be practiced and strengthened. It gives us the ability to change and grow. It is that little bit of space where we can look past the challenge of the thing we are up against to the goal or destination we are headed toward. We can better align to our principles and values when we maintain inner flexibility.


Our yoga mat can be a mirror to our life because what we are doing anywhere, we are doing everywhere. Also, whatever we practice, we strengthen, for better or worse. Consider that square you practice on is a safe place to take a look at how you show up when you're challenged and to practice something new. Every new pose we take is an opportunity to begin again. Next time, take a look and see if you're resisting a challenge and try a tool that will help you to grow. If you take this frame work into a class, every pose offers you an opportunity to change.


A principle is a bigger picture looking. It could be a theme of a class or a value that you hold. It's verb or adverb like gratitude, strength, wisdom, growth, loyalty, etc. It's something to practice around or toward that will align you to where you want to go. Being tied to a principle has given me access to more inner flexibility.


According to the book Effortless by Greg Mckeown

"Methods - May be useful once to solve one specific type of problem.

Principles - Can be applied broadly and repeatedly."


Principles are a way to self care. Methods are ways we can practice our principles.


Take this to the mat. Consider the class theme is core engagement which is strengthening you at your center. The principle is strength or stability. Then every pose you take, you practice methods to engage your core. In Triple Diamond Pose - Pull your lower belly towards the floor. In Plank Pose - Pull your lower belly towards the ceiling. In shoulder stand - pull your lower belly towards the wall behind you. These are all methods to get you to the goal of a strong center.


The emphasis is no longer what your pose looks like with this mindset. It doesn't matter if you can touch your nose to your knees in a forward fold. In fact, when I'm practicing aligned to a deeper principle, my poses are often modified and scaled back significantly. What the question in the forward fold becomes then "is my lower belly locked in a forward fold to protect the lumbar spine vs can I reach my toes?".


What starts to show up in my life out of this type of a practice, is my ability to clearly see the bigger picture or goal. Then every step I take along the way is with my eyes on the prize.




For example, I recently injured my foot and I'm in a boot. With an upcoming race in South Africa only 8 weeks away this has thrown a real wrench in my training plan. Not only am I unable to physically train like I want to, but running is how I clear my head and my heart so resistance to resting showed up in full force.


I refocused on my values as my principles which are creativity & compassion and started implementing methods to create them in my life. Right away I fixed my bike tire, started to ride and made my way back to the pool. Both are two methods that allow me to practice both compassion (for myself) and creativity (switching up my training). I was able to course correct and stay in the game vs quitting on myself or giving up. What I was practicing though was inner flexibility. What I got was the ability to still stay active and train.


It wasn't until I showed up on my mat to practice in my boot, adjusting with blocks and modifying every pose (compassionately & creatively), that I realized I've been practicing for this setback for a long time. I've at least been practicing my ability to change and pivot when I need to. As my foot heals, I'm left with gratitude for my yoga practice and the techniques it has taught me to take care of myself.


Maybe yoga just truly isn't for you. That's ok! But getting clear on principles or values is a powerful tool for our self care.


What could some inner flexibility give to you?

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