Recently I’ve decided to start exploring yoga again. (This picture is NOT me. 🙂 ) My last experience with yoga had been about ten years ago, with a weekly introductory course for about six weeks. At that time I was a daily runner, and I always found myself feeling like going for a nice long run after a good yoga session. I felt tall, light and strong.
In the past ten years I’ve developed some bad body posture habits, I’ve had a running injury and not done well at repairing it, and I’ve fought with tenosynovitis in both my forearms. All of these are not good things. But for the past five years at least, I’ve kept them at bay with some simple stretches in the morning and at night, some daily vitamin and mineral supplements, and periods of chiropractic.
But it’s been aggravating to have something occasionally go out of whack, to be dependent on a chiropractor, to have my knee hurt like crazy for weeks, or to have my hip get tight and yank my low back out or vice versa. So I’ve finally given in and dived back in to yoga.
Coming back to yoga is simultaneously really fun and really frustrating. The first thing I notice every time I go to a session is how unbelievably tight and tense and unbalanced I feel. UGH! Starting out with some deep breaths, my ribcage feels tight, and taking a full breath is difficult and uncomfortable. As we proceed through various poses I find myself having trouble balancing, and certain muscles and ligaments scream out as I pull on them since they’ve been ignored for so long. But during the course of an hour my state of mind shifts from “oh hell this sucks that I’m so stiff” to almost a gleeful state of pleasure from playing with the poses. Yeah I’m stiff but can I do just a little bit more? Stretch just a little further? Keep that muscle tight while relaxing this one? For just a little longer? …it’s a fun game to play.
Pushing my inflexible body through positions that encourage me to move in new ways has me reflect on how this is appropriate to other aspects of life. Frequently I find myself thinking about companies, and how older companies frequently do things “because they’ve always worked”. With people staying on staff “because they’ve always been there”. Old companies develop ways of being that are inflexible, and when new, agile companies jump up and threaten the old guard, frequently it’s hard to get these old companies to move in new ways that are appropriate to fight the threat. How do successful old companies fight the creeping onset of rigor mortis? How can one encourage an older company that has already become inflexible into a nimbler state?
These are things I think about after a yoga session. And then I think about my own life – in what other areas have I become inflexible but don’t realize it? What other practices could I put in place in my own life to remain flexible, open, and aware?