Be Flexible – I bend so I don’t break

Here is the second post of the ‘Belikeyoga series’, today featuring Flexibility. Last month I talked about being strong, and this time I wanted to explore thoughts on being flexible.

Anybody who has seen yoga live, or in pictures, can see how flexible yogis are. Back-bends, splits, forward-folds, twists… the list is long and challenging. As well as strong, a yogi needs to be flexible to master their practice. Strong and flexible are the two main characteristics that a year ago sparked this Belikeyoga metaphor in my mind. How two qualities that are initially so different, are so equally necessary, both in yoga and in life.

I wanted to write about this one around my birthday at the end of January, because precisely flexibility has been something I’ve worked on (and hopefully improved) over the last year. And I’m not talking about body flexibility!

flexible – ˈflɛksɪb(ə)l/ adjective
capable of bending easily without breaking.
able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstances.
(of a person) ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances.

Flexible asanas tend to be the most gracious postures to see in yoga due to its beauty. Body acquiring new positions, adapting to new spaces. The same happens in our mind when we are flexible.

The opposite of flexible is rigid, static. These kinds of personality traits will make life’s (inevitable) changes unbearable. Without flexibility to adapt graciously to life’s flow, we would be stuck easily, unable to cope. If we cannot bend, we break.

I bend so I don't break

Flexibility in yoga comes slowly, it is not something you can push. But it is something that does arrive easily by being committed to it and practise it regularly.

Flexibility in life is not so simple. Specially for perfectionist personalities, it can be hard to be “bendy” and adapt when life is not going through the path we wanted, when people is not doing what we thought they would. It is at those times when we have the opportunity to work on our mind flexibility, open our horizons and allow life’s realities to lead, instead of our own mental “shoulds”.

The turn to the thirties can be tricky, because it is an age socially full of shoulds. Should have a good job, a house, a husband, a baby… the list is long and the expectations are high, and often unachievable at the speed our head planned it, or just unachievable at all. It can be hard to come to terms with things unless we have the capability to be flexible, to stop controlling life and, especially, others’ lives.

This can be difficult; because giving up control means we need to trust life, or other people, for things to turn out the way we wanted. The ideal reality is that our flexibility should go further and, if our mind is really open and flexible, we will adapt to whatever happens. We will be fine no matter what.

Like in yoga, acquiring new positions, adapting to new spaces.

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