The subtle difference between stretching and yoga
The ongoing battle with my hamstrings (and the related skirmishes with my shoulders, hips and parts of my back) continues, and today there were several times where I thought maybe I was about to go past the edge (a.k.a. possibly hurt something). There was some serious pushing on Jörgen Christiansson’s part, and plenty of surrendering on mine.
And there were more dropbacks. Apparently, I’m still resisting. “I can hold you up with one hand, so I for sure can hold you up with two,” Jörgen told me (or something to that effect) after, indeed, holding me with just one hand.
I’m sure that faith will come. It is a challenge, though. (What isn’t?)
In the aftermath, though, it is less the dropbacks and the intense stretches that I’m remembering than just the stretches. My Mysore practice includes a few moments when I’m definitely stretching more so than strictly adhering to the Ashtanga Primary Series. Paschimottanasana is one; a snuck-in Virasana is another.
I’m not sure I can precisely put a finger on it, but the moments when I’m stretching are definitely different than when I’m attempting the practice — even in those specific poses. Stretching — the classic touching your toes — is not the same as Paschimottanasana. It might be the focus; when I’m stretching, I’m thinking about subtle moves to try to loosen things up a little more. If I’m in the asana, I’m trying to find the “expression” of the pose. Both moments are focused and in many ways inward turned, but not toward the same place.
Is one just turned to the body, maybe, while the other is turned toward something more subtle? Perhaps.
Whatever the difference is, I’m pretty sure it is the difference between stretching and yoga. And I suppose if I could figure it out, I might have learned something. (Although, on second thought, perhaps not.)
Posted by Steve