Back or forth?

Are you a forward folder or a back bender? I once heard that we tend to be either one or the other, well if not made of rubber of course. I have to admit, it’s very true for me. I’m a forward folder and I love it. My back is rather rounded and stiff, it’s difficult for me to go backwards. Physically spoken! As going backwards in any other meaning than physically isn’t just difficult, but a no go for me. I only know one direction, forward. Haha, yes, there it is, must be a connection. Well I leave it with this, even if my mind is just telling me stories about optional deep psychological interpretations… not now, not here!

I’d like to tell you about forward folds and hamstrings. I’m talking about a group of muscles placed on the backside of our thighs. I have an intense relationship with my beauties, a daily conversation, as they are kind of shilly-shally, everyday in a different mood. Some days very open and soft, which makes all forward folds such a pleasure, other days stiff, hard and full of tension.

„To breathe into and release the hamstrings can be very upsetting. We store many powerful emotions, such as suppressed anger, competitiveness, and fear of inadequacy, in our hamstring muscles. All suppressed emotions are potentially crippling to our health: they are toxic and have an impact on our personality…“

(Ashtanga Yoga, Practice & Philosophy, by Gregor Maehle)

Here you go, one reason! Another reason is that we spend too much time sitting, which shortens our hamstrings. Changing habits helps of course, as well as regular practice.

When working on your hamstrings it’s not just about stretching. We need both, lengthen and strengthen them. Always be careful, listen to them, treat them thoughtful and respect whatever they present you with that moment. Send your breath into the hamstrings and actively let all tension go with each exhale. Instead of forcing, go with the yin approach and get soft together with your hamstrings. Allow them to open in their own time and appreciate all they do for you!

Get ready for the next season

Do you feel it too? Summer is gone in Europe and my body speaks loud to me, telling me to slow down, be mindful while adjusting to the changes. Well, getting more receptive to what’s going on around might be also a matter of age, what can I say? It’s hard staying young 😉

During this period of time, I feel my joints cracking, as if they ask to be lubrified. My hamstrings behave like the strings of a guitar with too much tension.

So, what to do? Embrace your body and its awesome capabilities! Accept where you are in this moment and adjust your practice. This is what I did this morning:

I turned on music. Yes, I’m practicing Ashtanga, so what! My favorite music made it easier to release and just flow. I have to admit, between Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana and Ardha baddha padmottanasana I lost my focus and started dancing. I had a huge smile on my face, it all felt so right. It was ok. It’s MY practice. And my body found its rhythm, tuned in, opened and turned into its softness. It’s all about steadiness and ease isn’t it? So don’t be so hard on yourself and remember the second part, „ease“. Finding ease in our steadiness is the moment we start doing yoga.

All you need to do is listen to your body. Be aware and only do good to you. Hehe, this doesn’t mean shavasana only, well it might…. It’s your practice! Even being an Ashtangi might mean yin yoga for one day. If it feels right, it is right. Just show up, adjust your practice and get your blood flowing. And please, always keep a good sense of humor!