Your Body, Your Yoga.
Did you know that your body cannot be opened by force? Your muscles will contract and get tighter, not longer or looser.
The way I open my body is with yin yoga … I have spent the past 5+ years practicing 3 times a week alongside my yang Ashtanga practice. Honestly, I think I have got it down to a fine art! But I’m also aware that I have relatively open joints. Once I had learnt how to work through most of my tensile limitation.
Your Bones are Your Bones
However, my bones are my bones – they are the reason I lift my heels in dropbacks (compression). The reason I can’t ‘drop my shoulders’ down my back (compression). The reason why I can’t open my upper back…(compression, plus the upper back never bends beyond straight!!) it’s all down to my bones.. it’s not through lack of trying or laziness ….it’s simply how I am made and I discovered this through Yin yoga and you can too! You can see the video below …
A lot of the time people go to yoga in the hope of instantly becoming more flexible or they don’t go to yoga because they believe they are not flexible enough. If they do go, some will give it up pretty quickly because they don’t bend like the most flexible person in the room or the pictures they see on social media and in magazines. Which leads them to believe they are not good at yoga and that yoga is not for them.
Tension vs Compression
Its the human condition to gravitate towards the things which we feel we are good at. However, not being able to bind in a seated twist or get your knees to the floor in badakonasana does not mean you are not good at yoga… it simply means that once you have worked through the tensile limitation or tension in your body you will unavoidably reach a place of compression.
Which means your bones will not let you go any further; no amount of forcing, pushing or grunting will change that! But that does not mean that you are not good at yoga, you are still getting all the benefits from the pose; you are gaining a healthy range of mobility, you are stimulating your cells, you are helping to lengthen the connective tissue to create more freedom in your body, your gaining strength… plus so many more, the list is quite literally exhaustive.
The wonderful truth is …
We don’t and can’t all bend like the yogis we see on instagram ..but that doesn’t make our practice less yoga or make yoga not accessible. It just means we are normal and we have the bones we have! From my own experience there are no extra health benefits to be gained from putting your leg behind your head. Being naturally flexible does not make a better yogi and it does not make yoga practice more yoga…anything done in a mindful way with focus and attention IS YOGA!! The asanas are just a way to get the body, mind and breath to connect in a cohesive way.
So your bones are your bones and no amount of practice will change that. The point of developing a yoga practice is to discover your own unique, one of a kind, normal body. It’s taken me years of teaching and practice to discover that extreme does not mean healthy, happy or enlightened. It simply means that some people have more joint mobility and some people have less.
As Bernie Clarke says “if we’re feeling it, we’re doing it” no matter what shapes we make!
I think that’s a very healthy way to practice. So people, please be happy practicing in the amazing body and bones of you … 🙂 xx
“The rest is just a circus!!” ~ Sri K Pattabi Jois