Strength vs. Flexibility

ajm Yoga In The Park 7When you have released some stress and tension in your system, you unleash a life force that motivates you to develop and feel your strength.  It is pretty darn exciting!

 

One of the specific aspects that comes up is the relationship between strength and flexibility, so I thought I’d break it down.

 

And in typical Jessie way, I’ll share the physical side and the energetic/emotional side 🙂

I remember waaaay back in my early yoga days (almost 20 years ago!) I thought it was ALL about flexibility.  Opening, stretching, becoming more and more and more flexible.  I was a naturally flexible person, and totally went with this.  It felt good, I saw progress.  And I was doing damage.  Physically and energetically.

 

Years later, I had a particular teacher who said the magic words…

“Flexibility needs to be supported with strength and stability.”

This is a dynamic body quality.

I had NEVER thought of that.  I didn’t work on strength at all.

Fast forward to working in a gym and observing the “strength” people. They were NOT flexible.  

Nor did they stop to stretch after a workout!

The trick is marrying these concepts.  Strength. Stability. Flexibility.

They all support each other and create a resilient body.

When you use muscles, they contract (muscles only pull, they don’t push).  The muscle fibers slide into a more overlapping position to muster up the strength needed to do their thing. This is the same for walking, getting up from a chair, doing yoga, or doing a gym workout.  Whenever you move a muscle, it contracts, gets shorter.  

This is why, unless you stretch back out you feel tight. You literally are.

When you stretch, those muscle fibers slide into a more extended position.  This position doesn’t have as much power, but it has more mobility.  This is why you feel open after a good stretch. You are eliminating the compression.

When you ONLY do strengthening stuff (whether that is on a normal–every-day-movement level, or workout level) you create short, tight muscles, with less mobility, you shrink the range of motion of your joints.

When you ONLY do stretching stuff, your muscles are chronically extended and lack the umph needed to support your body.

This all can be felt very physically and when it gets very unbalanced can result in injury.

There is also the energetic and emotional side of things.  And it is pretty literal and obvious.  Take a look…

When you are chronically tight and compressed, you FEEL that. Your life reflects that. You may feel stuck, stressed, blocked. You may be burying pain, trauma, or other discomforts in all that contraction. (This may be unconscious or conscious)

 

When you are all about opening, stretching (like I was) you basically spill your energy everywhere, have a tendency to over-give, are an energetic sponge, and get hurt easily.

Of course we are all unique, so this shows up differently for all of us.

When you make balanced body practices a part of your rhythm, you have the opportunity to create a body that feels both strong and flexible, and an energy body that is both open and supported.

This can be done in lots of ways.  It can be in a more comprehensive yoga practice, a gym type workout, wacky unique body play…anything really.

It just takes the acute awareness of your current body/energy situation, and a knowing of how to craft what you most need.

Where are you on this spectrum right now?

This is not a linear process.  It’s more of a loop-de-loop.  It’s not flexibility first strength second, or the other way around.  It is an experience of the whole picture and honoring your needs, moving through them, in the moment.

 

 

Craving a community where movement is medicine,

where body practices are nourishment, not punishment?

Join the discussion in my private Facebook Group e-motion HERE!

 

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