My mother was a professional ballet dancer. Although, if you ask her, she will tell you that I am ten times more flexible than she. Hereditary or not, I have been blessed with a rather bendy body. When I was in elementary school, we did this yearly President’s Challenge Fitness thing part of which was a Sit and Reach test. I won every year – beating multiple ballerinas and a nationally ranked rhythmic gymnast. But where I excel in flexibility, I fall short in balance.
My flexibility allows me to almost cheat at a lot of poses. They look good, but my body is telling me the truth. When I am out of shape, I can feel myself doing many things I shouldn’t. Dumping weight into my shoulders, locking my knees. My body does this strange thing where every single part of me has to be strong before any strength will begin to build in my core. But once my core is strong, I can pull myself up and out of my joints and really start to feel my body working as one machine.
This disparity is most evident when I am in a posture where the teacher offers a bind as a modification. My flexibility has gotten me into the pose, but asking my core to hold everything together while I lift my hand up off the ground? That is when the truth comes into play. And when I can’t let my ego get the best of me.
But rather than think I have to choose between it being easy (flexibility) or hard (balance), the next time the offer is given to me, I am going with option three. I am going to use that time when I am in an “easy” pose to try and meditate. I am horrible at it. I CAN NOT clear my mind – unless I am in Shavasana at the end of class. And then, let’s be honest, I may actually be asleep. Can I use those 30 seconds to focus on a drishti? We shall see. Will you try with me? The next time you are offered a “deeper variation” will you interpret it as a deepening of your meditation practice? Or an opportunity to show off to the yogi next to you? I’m going to try my very best to go for option one. Let me know if you do too.