Flexibility: It’s more than your hamstrings

Photo by Tamba Budiarsana from Pexels

Let’s talk about flexibility again in a deeper way.  Particularly for people who find themselves getting frustrated easily — especially those of us who are trying to be high-achievers and are stereotypically hag-ridden by Impostor Syndrome.Flexibility is also ease, poise, and the ability to change shape.  That’s not just “can I yank on my muscle fibers to lengthen them.” 

It’s also “oh, I had three clients cancel this week and my kids want to go to the park on Sunday,” can I leave my valid aggravation where it sits, rather than staying in “frustration-land” and taking my grown-up frustrations out on a bunch of kids who just want to play and have fun?

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This is not the face you want to take to the swimming pool and swing-sets.

Being “off balance” is no fun for anybody, but it applies emotionally as well.  The neat trick about our nervous system, though, is that it doesn’t distinguish between the two.Really.Try this. The next time you get frustrated by “that time adulting wasn’t much fun,” right before you go to do the next thing, just close your eyes and very gently teeter-totter left and right until you can clearly sense “what’s left,” “what’s right,” and how they’re different from “what feels like neither left nor right.”If you do that, it becomes, like magic, much easier to remember the things for which we’re grateful, rather than the things that make us want to go chew on a lamp-post.

Try it!

What’s happening is that you’re talking to the nerves that control the multifidis, a set of muscles alongside your spine. And in doing so, you step OUT of the nervous system pattern/organization of “frustration” and back into the one called “balanced.”

If you remove the frustration pattern, where does the frustration go?  Nowhere. It’s just a pattern that you experience emotionally.  Long-time Awareness Through Movement students develop the ability to do this almost-instinctually, and have a MUCH easier time shrugging off stress than their peers.

Give it a shot!

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Effortless (ly Powerful)

We don’t always want to be relaxed.

In fact, MOST of the time, we don’t want to be relaxed. Because “relaxed” doesn’t get things done. What we usually mean when we say “relaxed,” is Not Straining.  We only strain when we try to do something that we don’t know how to do easily, and so we substitute “efforting” and will-power in place of ease and power.

Here’s a real-life example.

I know a gent I used to work with who was a true master of the heavy garden shears. You know, those big over-sized scissors-from-hell that you use to lop tree branches off with?

He can lop branches for hours. But he’s no muscle-bound hulk.  Holding the nozzle to a power-washer? Oh, no, buddy.  Holding the nozzle to a power-washer? That’s exhausting!

Doesn’t seem to add up, does it? On the one hand, hard manual labor. On the other, literally no harder than watering your lawn.

That’s because it’s not really about relaxation. It’s about how well-organized you are to perform a specific task.  I mean, let’s be real — nobody chops through two-inch thick branches while relaxed.  As anybody who’s gardened can tell you, that’s work.  But my friend can do it with no perception of strain or effort. He’s effortlessly powerful with heavy garden shears.

You can have relatively high levels of muscle tone for a long time, so long as your body isn’t fighting mixed signals. That’s why you see people who do heavy manual labor (warehouse workers, furniture movers, construction workers), who then go and work out or play sports in the evening, because they have plenty of energy and feel lazy if they don’t.

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They’re well-organized for their daily tasks. And that means they bring more of themselves home to their friends and family at night,  not because they haven’t worked…. but because they haven’t STRAINED.

If you want to feel relaxed, yet be powerful enough that you totally own all the things you need to do in your day… you need to learn to take the strain out.  And I’ll be happy to help you learn how.