I begin to learn my yoga students’ bodies and their abilities over time. It is quite a linear progression of flexibility and strength that can be graphed to a predictable outcome. I see a yogi and think, she is probably ready for the next step. I saw a yogi the other day and she was doing a mermaid version of pigeon pose. I walked over and worked her body into king pigeon. It wasn’t a surprise because I could see the progression. I see someone else and think that they are ready for something like one-legged crow pose. Or maybe a bind in a revolved twist. It is all possible with consistent practice.
However, when I evaluate my own body, the linear progression goes out the window. In fact, my progress is very sporadic. It seems like a Samba dance. I step forward, then I step back…sometimes two steps back. I look at binds I did 3 years ago and I struggle to do them today.
Such is the way of progressive resistance strength training. But also virtually any sport where you push yourself to muscle breakdown requiring recovery. This is especially true with endurance athletes who do repeated movements in a short, efficient range of motion. Fibrin, collagen, and other muscle tissue and fascia development restricts lengthening of muscles. It seems like you start over again every time when you do yoga. For me, CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting is what does it. It requires constant maintenance through yoga, massage, and heat therapy.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not discouraged by this. I just know that my progress is not linear. Whereas, my strength is fairly linear. I know I’ll keep growing and getting stronger. My yoga will be stronger too. And I’ll have better GPP (general physical preparedness) to attempt things requiring strength and balance so much better. But the flexibility will be a constant struggle. And that’s OK. I don’t fight battles that don’t need to be fought.
Life is a balance of give and take. Yin and yang. Raja and tamas. Give in to what your body gives you. And use your strengths where they lie.