Have you heard yoga teachers tell you to go into a deep bend at the hips and bring your hands to the floor and your head to your legs? I certainly have. The instructions imply great flexibility in hips and hamstrings.
Sometimes we haven’t actually heard those directions, but we see others – The Supple Ones – get into this standing forward bend, and we just try to imitate them.
When I think of flexibility as relating to yoga, I take it to mean mental flexibility as much as physical. If you discover that your own body won’t go fold up the way you’ve heard (or imagined) the instructions, it’s time to reassess. This is when the real yoga starts…as an inquiry into where any restrictions, discomfort or even outright pain show up.
Flexibility can mean using your intelligence to back off a bit from the “ultimate” pose, give yourself some mental space to look around and sense when or even if it’s time to deepen your efforts. Yoga is a lifelong journey, so what’s the hurry? You might want to see what uttanasana is like upon repetition, after a little breather.
This way of being flexible evokes your inner teacher which is a more interesting way to be walking the yoga path than copying another person in a class or the picture on the yoga calendar. Your inner teacher will have some unique guidance for you and take you in directions previously unimagined.