When Life Hurts: Good or Bad Stretch?

A Crossroads

Not long ago, I was at a crossroads in my life, and as often happens at crossroads, I felt a bit of pain. Down one of four potential roads lay strange but exciting newness. Down another, loss, but with possibility. A third would have required potentially painful growth. A fourth, complete uncertainty. None would be easy. All would require a stretch, and with stretching, we tend to hurt.

Avoiding Pain

When something starts to hurt, we have a tendency to pull back. After all, hurt is something to avoid, right? But what about taking a yoga class? Donít you find yourself in poses that are, at once, completely liberating but hurt like the dickens? I know I do. Itís tempting to stretch too far- to let your ego get caught up in ďsuccess,Ē while you push yourself beyond safe limits and wind up with a torn hamstring. So how do you know where that limit lies? Whatís the difference between good stretch and bad stretch?

Wisdom of the Body

Iíve found that my body tends to know. Thereís a stretch that feels invigorating. Itís a challenge, and stepping up to the plate feels fantastic when you achieve it. By stretching gently, you slowly surrender more deeply into the pose, freeing your mind and unleashing your spirit. But thereís another type of stretch that just feels wrong. You tweak something, feel pain biting into you, and get a sense of dread about whatís happening. One is to be celebrated. The other is best avoided.

How can you tell the difference? You have to listen to your body, mind, and spirit. When youíre stretching, you know the difference between a good stretch and a bad one. Itís when we ignore the messages that suffering happens.

Resting in Childís Pose

In my life, three of the possible roads felt like good stretches. One felt† like a bad one. But I kept standing at the crossroads for a while, resting, rejuvenating, growing, and getting clarity about what lies ahead. I came out of that stretching yoga pose and rested into childís pose until I felt strong enough, limber enough, to keep stretching. And thatís okay.

Stretching Out Of Our Comfort Zones

Maybe youíre finding that being vulnerable on the forum is stretching you. Maybe another person says something to you that stings and stretches you. Maybe you donít feel met in just the way you might wish. Maybe you feel overstretched, like youíve put too much of yourself out there. You might wonder if this is a bad stretch. And it could be- for you. Or it could be that liberating stretch that comes just before you are set free. Only you can know the difference, and you must honor where you are in your process.

It all comes back to being true to where you are. There is no right and wrong. Just like there is no right or wrong road at my intersection. My body just needs to feel which stretch feels like growth and which one feels like a pulled muscle.

What about you? What stretches you?

Related Link:
Facing the Demons of Inaction
Changing Your World

45 comments

Marianne B.
MARIANNE B.3 years ago

Just listen to your body in any activity......

Bonnie M.
Bonnie M.3 years ago

Such is life that more often than not, we all need to stretch a little bit more, to reach out, to give of ourselves. To do this without expecting anything in return but doing it from deep within can be liberating. Everyone has financial woes, some more than others. Worrying over this does not help- but looking closely at lifestyle, know the difference between want and need, can help, this can even mean doing without. Keep your faith and spirit strong, thru this all and the burden does not feel as heavy.Trust that someone looks after you.

Karen Foley
Karen F.4 years ago

I agee with the comment of Anastasia J, yoga is supposed to be non-competitive. Don't push yourself past what feels right. One yoga teacher I know is guilty of 'pushing' her students too far and I know of at least one of them who has been injured. As for the teacher herself, she endured 2 hip replacements at the age of 50. Maybe had she not been so competitive, her hips may not have worn out.

Victor M.
Victor M.4 years ago

don't worry, be happy

Anastasia J.
Annie J.4 years ago

My yoga instructor always emphasizes it's a "non-competative" class!

LM Sunshine

thank you for sharing!

Emma S.
Emma S.4 years ago

I really want to know which choice Lissa made...!

Reading this made me decide I'd write a letter to myself, to be opened in the new year. I'll come back after the break and find some advice and suggestions waiting for me. One of the first things I'd like to do is start some yoga.

Jeanne J.
Jeanne J.4 years ago

Thanks for sharing...

Lubna Ibrahim
Lubna twal5 years ago

thank u

Ruth R.
Ruth R.5 years ago

This is a start. This is similar to a question. The answer is up to each individual, and what will help that person.