In yoga, we often move into poses and observe how, as one side of the body stretches in a pose, the other side of the body strengthens. So, while we sit in our one legged forward fold, we feel the stretch on the back side of the leg: the hamstrings, calf, and heel tendon, while the front side of the leg: the quads, shin, front of the foot, feel the strength. It is this way for every pose in yoga. We can spend an entire class just noticing this juxtaposition in our bodies. And we have!
However, we can take this idea of stretch and strength into our lives more deeply, as we learn that yoga is meant to be incorporated into our lives more deeply. In our lives, we will be asked to stretch: stretch our paradigms, stretch our knowledge, stretch our prejudices, stretch our limitations we place on ourselves. And only by stretching ourselves, sometimes to our very limit and sometimes, even, to past what we think we can take, do we realize there is strength in the stretch. We may not realize, as we are stretching, how we are also strengthening, but it is true.
I was reminded of this in our Saturday yoga class this morning. The playlist I chose this morning was a series of songs that flow like life itself. from the heart lifting words of “Here Comes the Sun” to thewords of loss in Bread’s “Everything I Own,” the songs parellel the highs and lows of our life, when we are called to stretch ourselves, perhaps beyond our means. But then we are reminded with”Have Little Faith In Me” that we are not alone in our stretching. We are reminded that God (or whatever term we use for this Higher Source) is with us as we stretch, but even more importantly, He is with us, making us stronger. “I Can See Clearly Now” reminds us that our presence on Earth is to stretch AND strengthen. We cannot have one without the other. We cannot, if we choose to live life as we were intended to live it.
Just prior to our final relaxation, savasana, I read from the book, The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle). The reading was about the ego. We are reminded that we have to stretch and strengthen ourselves in this life by letting go of our labels that we (and others) place on us. By attaching ourselves to our labels, we only stretch. But for balance, to balance our egos, we need to also strengthen. We need to detach from the labels, and that is hard work!
Eckhart reminds us that many people will not come to realize this Truth until they face death. But he also tells us that it is possible to experience this Truth and internalize it before we die. We can experience this death before we actually die. Letting the ego release, releasing our attachments to our labels, we are reminded that stretching is only as good as the strength we take into our lives and poses.