By Guest Writer Diana Bailey
The deep “binding” stretches of Pilates and Yoga challenge body and mind to learn balance in their work together. Releasing chronically held tension takes the patience of repeated invitations and acceptance of the often minimal response. Dissolving the tension is the immediate goal, and certainly the most obvious one. Yet, the lesson goes deeper than bodily flexibility if the purpose is to discover no bind.
Each time physical tension is approached with respect and tolerance, it yields a bit. The realization may even occur that there’s nothing particularly wrong with being in a bind. This is often when the bind yields the most. One student described stretching as “The practice of being voluntarily stuck.” He was absolutely accurate! The process to gain lasting flexibility asks us to engage in the following work if the goal is no bind:
• still the mind in order to be attentive to the body
• feel for the release or change
• move purposefully into a link of breath
Repeated stretching underlies the discovery that the ingenuity to get in and out of a bind exists. You are not really stuck if you are learning. This is the study of increments. Flexibility builds in increments. It is remarkably helpful to use the guidance of a professional until the nature of stretching with respect for the body is clear.
The barrier of inflexibility is not broken, it is dissolved.
The body responds best to the approach of seeking ease by gently and consistently moving at the edge of ease rather than the edge of pain. A focused, quiet mind is willing to do without trying hard because it understands how critical this is to long-term success.
Flexibility is only a quest for the discovery of wiggle room, after all.