I work out with a person who is incredibly poised, funny and fierce. She is French and she's pregnant. Every time I cycle home after a session with her I've noticed I'm feeling happy and strong. Our 60 minutes together are times of the day I look forward to and seeing her thrive in her pregnancy and energized when I leave her is an added bonus that leaves me profoundly grateful for the job I'm doing.
She has taught me other things than the French words she sprinkles into the session when she's counting or explaining something, she has also introduced me to more flexibility.
Now if you've read about how the anatomy of a woman changes, you will know that she becomes flexible and stretching is much easier than before. Take a woman who did Ashtanga yoga and was able to wrap her leg around her head pre pregnancy and you have the polar opposite of my tight hamstrings.
A few weeks ago I introduced an exercise where we sit opposite each other wide legged, holding each others' hands and rocking back and forth with deep breaths. It is said that the motion releases tension in the lower back especially during pregnancy and it aids digestion.
She would laugh at the little motion that was happening on my end and ask me if she should pull me more. I said no. But within a few weeks my flexibility increased nonetheless. Which got me thinking.
I do yoga several times a week, I am an avid runner and usually stretch afterwards and I lead an active lifestyle in which I try to keep flexible as well as strong. Still, my hamstrings and hips are always my tightest areas. But there are times when I don't overthink it, when they are more open and usually that is when I'm relaxed and happy and full of gratitude for my life and my surroundings.
As a student, practicing fencing, I would do splits as part of my stretching often, I would plop down laughing into a hurdle seat (no hands) come back up to my feet turn and sit down again on the opposite leg. My coach incorporated a lot of gymnastics into my training to make it more diverse and fun and so I wouldn't notice how we strengthened my core and upper body in exactly the right places for the swimming which was also part of the Modern Pentathlon. I did handstands, cartwheels, handsprings and was elastic as a Haribo gummybear :) .
Now I wouldn't want to blame my difficulties now on age, but rather on a state of mind that these days I have to switch on more consciously. It seems contradictory to force oneself to be playful and easy but I've found that giving the brain an impulse to change direction works wonders for its physical ability, too. The tumbling and falling that results from trying things playfully, returns the favour and makes us giggle.
Somewhere along the way of growing up, I have lost some of that playfulness, I have had painful losses in the last few years and life in general can sometimes be unrelenting. Being an 'expat' has meant that I needed to adapt to a new surrounding when my friends back home were settling down. However, I have made a few drastic changes; among them the decision to pursue my passion with Chitta Wellness. So far, it has been a great change in direction and with it a lot of play has come back into my life. I am currently a work in progress in this department but with the help of old people and new people and the incredible enthusiasm they have shown for what I am building and what I continue to create, I catch myself tapping my foot lightly while humming a tune, much more often.
I dare you to do the same... Play on!