- the quality of bending easily without breaking.
- the ability to be easily modified.
- willingness to change or compromise
Synonyms: Pliability, suppleness, mouldability, stretchability, workability, limberness, plasticity
- the quality or state of being physically strong.
- the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure
Synonyms: power, sturdiness, robustness, toughness, lustiness, firmness, soundness, solidity, solidness, durability, resistance.
So most of us have been told that when we have an “exercise” regime, we need to “change it up” to keep it fresh so that we ensure we “exercise” all parts of us and that our body doesn’t get used to it or it stops evolving. This is because the body is INSANELY amazing and it assimilates and integrates information so quickly and makes it part of our being. (As in our literal cells, fibres, muscles, wiring, etc) So if we don’t want to stagnate, we need to keep moving, stay creative and increase our body’s vocabulary and expression.
For 2015, my “fitness/health” goals are to increase my flexibility and strength. And this is not just fitness in a physical sense – as a human being. “Fitness” and “Health” refers to our physical bodies AND also our emotional, spiritual and mental bodies. EVERY THING is connected and impacts on everything else.
We inherently know this to be true through experience. When we feel mentally healthy, our body and emotional body usually feel healthier too – and when we feel mentally or physically or emotionally “blergh”, it affects the rest of “us”, how we experience the world and how we feel, think and show up.
“Your body can instantly affect your mind. Your mind changes your behaviour, & your behaviour can change outcomes.” (and vice versa)
Amy Cuddy – Power Posing Social Psychologist, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School & TED speaker.
I chose to focus on flexibility and strength as I did an audit in terms of my current ways of thinking, feeling and being. I am happy with my “fitness/health levels” in terms of mobility, stability and agility body-mind-spirit. Lightening fast reflexes physically and my ability to think too, and access my emotional intelligence for example is pretty impressive in terms of agility and mobility. I also have a sense of stability within and my “balance point” on all levels is developed enough that life’s curve balls and surprises don’t sway me too much.
However, accessing and developing the sensation of strength and flexibility needs some practice. I decided in order to start making this awareness and sensation part of my actual cellular structure, wiring and hormone activities and hence a sustainable reality to reap the benefits, I would start making them part of my daily routine.
That is how we learn and how we programme ourselves – through raising awareness and experience-based neuroplasticity.
So, this week I started stretching. And planking. Some leg strengthening poses and back bends.
The motivation is that 8 years ago, I was able to do handstands, cartwheels, back bends and flip over’s and now my arms, core and legs no longer feel strong enough and my back, shoulder joints and hips are not flexible enough to attain the sensation stored in my cellular memory – a reality I can still “sense” in my body. The body is designed to move and is stronger than we realise. I know I might not be able to get back to 8 years ago, but I can get pretty close.
Mentally and emotionally, my motivation for “growing the sensation of strength” is due to my tendency to take things personally, doubt my ability or asking for approval (one thing to get opinions and feedback, another to let it affect your “strength of character”). So to start feeling “I’ve got this.” and Owning it.” in my bones and heart, I have chosen to really run it through my body as a sensation everyday – by thinking it, feeling it and hence becoming stronger. Flexibility in the way I habitually do things is also an area for development. My drive for excellence can have an unhealthy effect on my creative process and inviting downtime for rejuvenation and self-care. So less, “this way” and more “go with the flow” to improve my flexibility.
I also attended a Nia class on Wednesday as a student. I choose to focus on flexibility of thinking and doing and strength of muscles and my body centre. It was interesting to notice. As although I am a Nia Brown Belt and move well, I have my own way of moving and know my own choreography. Now I had to break my M.O. (modus operandi – a particular way or method of doing something) and learn a new routine and new way of moving and being in my body and mind. It was a challenge. All parts of me kept wanting to default to what was comfortable. However, 30 minutes in and my mind, emotions and body rose to the challenge and assimilated and I could sense life through flexibility (got the choreography and changed my thinking) and strength. (Moving from my core and intrinsic muscles)
Questions and Tips:
1) What part of your “fitness” is no longer challenging you?
2) Where can you improve your “state of health” by introducing more flexibility and strength?
3) How can you set aside 5 minutes a day to grow this new skill so it becomes part of your biology?
To read more about the 5 sensations and how they feel in your body, read my previous blog post. I also provide some additional questions and tips in that post to help you grow these sensations in your soul, body and mind.
Just as an added extra: Some of the benefits of stretching are increased endorphins, mindfulness, feeling sexier and more fluid, and so much more. Stretching is in fact an easy, secret weapon that takes 5 – 20 minutes a day and improves your quality of life and health tenfold. You don’t even have to “make the time” – just start working it into your day-to-day. Next time you get up from your PC, stretch at your desk for 30 seconds using your chair or desk. Next time you go to the bathroom, do some tricep curls at the edge of the bath for 20 seconds. Every little bit adds to the whole.
Stretch yourself! (Literally and figuratively)
Images own or Kirsten Bailey: Art