TORTURE OR RELIEF?
Children don’t usually do stretching. But they do stretch when they wake up and when they start to be tired. Animals stretch equally after sleep or when they feel good. Both children and animals are flexible and both move according to their energy waves. Their stretches are light and still full of intensity. Why do adults lose this flexibility and elasticity? Why do we not stretch naturally like other creatures? Instead, we need to go to stretching classes. I guess it’s because we lose the contact with our prana.
There are of course several reasons why we lose this contact: We sit too much and get too little natural motion. We eat food that stuck the energy in the whole system. We don’t sleep enough. We think too much. We don’t care about the messages from inside or can’t even here them anymore as we are mostly outward bound. We don’t breathe freely.
There’s a reason why there’s stiffness in a human body. The tense muscles are like an armor to protect something inside and to stop this something from moving. Usually it’s an unconscious tension, a control you can’t just get rid of. No matter how much you stretch, the tension persists and the body remains the same. If you want to become flexible and have healthy muscles, you need to work differently. You need to listen to what’s behind the stiffness and tension. Once the body releases the tension, the muscles can relax and the stiffness is gone. For good.
If your body is constantly contracted, there might be something left in the system you can work on in your yoga practice. The attention that is needed, is the consciousness and openness towards the energy you are not in connection with yet. Once you really get tuned to the pranic level, you will be one with whatever there is inside of you and you will understand. Once you understand, it means you become conscious of how your life energy was stuck and you change. The problem that comes to light is not a problem anymore. There’s a distance between the problem and you.
Yoga is not gymnastics, nor a sport, but growing consciousness in the body and vital energy. It’s about understanding of the dialogue between many different layers in you. Here we talk about the prana and the physical body. Life wants always to get through. So if you are more connected to your prana than to the problems on the physical level, you will open a door to your energy. You can’t force it. You can just watch. The free prana will make your body free.
There are also very soft people who don’t have any difficulties in stretching their muscles or opening the body. They might have another kind of problem. The muscles don’t contract enough and don’t therefore give enough resistance to movements or postures. If it’s about hypermobility of joints, some muscles are not doing their work properly. The body is partly lazy. Behind the lazy body, there could be some kind of depression, apathy or unconsciousness. Lack of control or lack of will to control.
When we walk, our muscles do their work without being commanded. When we start to run, we don’t have to think what to do with our muscles. We climb a wall or a mountain, our muscles “think” for themselves. They do their normal work and adapt to any situation – no thoughts needed. The way the muscle usually behaves in a healthy body is that it expands and contracts according to the situation. Both qualities are important. The muscles lengthen and stretch when we inhale and they contract more or less when we exhale.
If you pull your muscles with strength, they can become longer for a moment. Bad things can happen too. Or nothing happens at all. If you pull a muscle at its maximum length and you keep going, you risk to tear the muscle from its bone. Don’t stretch too much. Don’t do more than your energy is able to do. If you can’t breathe with ease, you’re not on the right track.
This doesn’t mean you’re not working. The work can be very exhaustive on this level too, because you really work with all your own obstacles and you try to give a new direction to your reactions. If you do an intelligent work with your prana, your body will follow. To do an intelligent work, you need energy too.
If you’re stuck, it means that your body is stuck. If your body is stuck, your emotions are stuck and the stretching doesn’t help. There’s a problem in a deeper layer and you should work that out. It’s normal you feel stretching could help, but it does only momentarily. The stiffness comes back as soon as you stop.
Some people have been stretching their bodies year after year (in yoga) and they are still stiff. Something is going to the right direction.
The unconscious mind reflects the problem on the physical level. We ourselves can’t usually see it, because we are unconscious.
What happens in the asana practice, is that you do things with your breathing and body and you try to achieve a balance in this work. It’s all you need. If your muscles work in a harmonious way, the practice is a kind of maintenance of the system. If your body is not too strained, you go forward , i.e. find the balance in more complex asanas. The asana practice is not a torture, if you don’t want it to be like that.