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.
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?
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.