“I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times.” ~~ Everett Dirksen
(I got this image from here)
Yoga does wonders for keeping our spines healthy and mobile. Our spines move in six directions:
- Flexion (forward bends)
- Extension (back bends)
- Lateral flexion (side bending) to the right
- Lateral flexion to the left
- Rotation (twisting) to the right
- Rotation to the left
Spinal flexibility tends to decrease with age, along with overall health of the spine. If we don’t move our spines regularly in each of the six directions, then adhesions can form. When this happens, it causes muscle fibers to stick together, reducing our range of movement even more. The more this happens, the more pain and dysfunction we’ll experience.
In yoga, it is thought that youthfulness and overall health are maintained when our spines are flexible. When the spine is flexible, the rest of the body tends to function better and moves more freely. Also, a flexible spine will give you a sense of ease as you walk and move through everyday life.
So this week in class, we’ll be incorporating exercises that move our spines in each of the six directions, so that we can prevent these issues from happening. If your spine happens to have limited flexibility already, have no fear — yoga can help reduce and break up these spinal adhesions, and you’ll notice that as time passes, your flexibility will improve.
But flexibility doesn’t just apply to our bodies. When we allow our minds to be more flexible, we open our lives to a multitude of possibilities. When you can be open to new ways of thinking and doing, it’s amazing the things that can result.
In my own life, I’ve noticed I go through periods when I’m more flexible in my thinking, and periods where I’m very rigid and unbending. Always, without a doubt, I’m happier and less stressed during the periods when my mind is more open and willing to go with the flow, even if it’s not what I originally expected.
My “off the mat” challenge to you this week is to evaluate your mind just a bit. Are you open to doing things differently, or do you always have to do things the same? Are you a creature of habit and routine, or are you more spontaneous and able to go with the flow? I know that more often than not, I always do things the same and need to follow a set schedule as much as possible. It’s a challenge for me to just “go with it”, and it may be difficult for you as well. But I can say that when I’ve been able to let go of that rigidity in my thinking, I’m usually always glad I did. Sometimes, something unexpectedly wonderful results. Not always, but most of the time, I’m glad when I’ve been able to be more flexible in my thinking. Let’s see if the same is true for you. As always, I’d love to hear of your experience, so feel free to comment here or contact me privately.