Easy Does It

Overheard: “You are just lucky – you are so naturally flexible.... Obviously being muscular is in your genetics.”
 
First of all: who cares?! 

What is the point of comparing yourself to any other person or worse, judging another person – you are you – be the best you! It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. Second: heck no!

For me, it took years of showing up every day to my mat and putting in the work and patience to move with ease. Ease doesn’t come easily for everyone – ease takes work for those of us who weren’t born with the “whatever” temperament.
 
An injury proved to be one of my greatest teachers in finding ease. After learning that all of my years and years of lower back pain was stemming from two broken vertebrae in my back, I had to learn to move through my whole spine – rather than just snapping (or “breaking”) in one place just for the sake of a deeper back bend. Moving intelligently requires thought and diligence, and prevents injury. When you do eventually find the way in which your body feels the best, it releases, and often times takes you places you never thought possible
 
Finding ease in “trickier” postures comes down to building the necessary strength (mostly core, a bit of arms), gaining the flexibility (hamstrings for handstand, hips for some arm balances, etc) and taking the patience to put in the time to figure out where your body feels the best in any given posture. That may not look like anyone else, and that’s okay!  It usually isn’t beneficial to try and conform your body to look like some picture you have seen – the pose will be the most beautiful when it feels the most beautiful in you and in your body. Pictures are great for inspiration, but not to make a carbon copy at your bodies’ expense.
 
Another part of finding ease is that it can take work: you can’t just show up to class and expect things to eventually come if you do the same thing every time. Each breath is an opportunity for exploration as to where your body feels like going on any given day – use that opportunity – it can take you to new and exciting places you never thought possible. MY hips? Were tight as anything when I started practicing yoga. It took a lot of patience, breath and not forcing to open – and they open more and surprise me each and every day when I allow the breath to release my body into things. This, in turn, makes things like flying crow or compass infinitely easier.
 
It’s pretty cool to exhale and all of a sudden be somewhere you never thought possible – expanding the space in your body is no different than expanding the space in your mind and in your life. 


To learn more about yoga, check out our video course The Complete Guide To Yoga With Tara Stiles.
About the Author

Heidi Kristoffer, creator and producer of Microsoft Bing Fitness Yoga, is a yoga instructor who leads workshops and retreats across the globe and at Strala Yoga in NYC. She is a true believer that yoga cures: lengthening and strengthening through yoga helped heal a herniated disc in Heidi's cervical spine and prevented surgery on two broken vertebrae in her lumbar spine. Stemming from her desire to use yoga as a tool to heal and strengthen the body, Heidi maintains an intense focus on core integration and alignment and believes that playfulness is vital--always balancing strength with levity. A vegan and yoga expert for SHAPE.com, Heidi is always looking for the most delicious ways to fuel and re-fuel before and after yoga.

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