let go and explore yourself
Body flexibility is considered as oneof the requirements of doing yoga asana. If you are not flexibile, you gotta work on it. Different asana requires flexibility of different muscles. Some people are born naturally flexible, some are not. That’s when some asana are easy to flexible people whereas they take much effort of some.
There is one interesting thing about flexibility that i’ve learnt lately. Sometimes you need to let go or relax to find out how flexible you are. It means that straining your muscle as well as your mind at the same time may not get you anywhere better in asana.
Let me illustrate this with my experience of doing Utthita Parsvasahita. In this asana, you hold the right leg up, hold right big toe with first two figers of the right hand, left hand on hip. Good alignment requires you to pull right leg straight, closer to your shoulder (even your head) and keep back and left leg straight as well. To do this, you have to engage a few muscles at the same time: iliopsoas, quadriceps femoris, biceps femoris and many others. For me, the tough part comes from my iliopsoas which hinders my leg flexion. I contracted the iliopsoas, pulling my leg with strong arms support, leg at the hip level is my best effort. Certainly my hip and harmstring are so much tense.
To my surprise, one day I could pulled up my leg to chest level…given help from my master. Two words he always told us when adjusting our asana are always :relax… breathe.. How to relax when doing this asana? I’m supposed to contract this muscle, strecth that muscle. His words ..relax…breathe again. I gotta let go once, i gotta relax my harmstring once. Then yup, the master helped to pull my leg nearly to shoulder level, with back and left leg still straight. Obviously I didn’t engage muscles much when he was adjusting. However I needed to keep working on muscle when he released my leg.
Anway, the beauty that I’ve learnt out of this is I COULD REACH there and my body is capable of doing that. One day, my leg could reach shoulder or even head level. I will not stop at the hip level for long.
And this is much more beautiful when we are able to apply this “technique” in daily life. We sometimes need to let go and thing will work itself.
Doing asana on the mat helps me to explore myself more and see things in another yet positive perspective. It’s not merely a body work out, it cultivates my spirit.