There’s something that separates the really greats from the might of been’s of yesterday. Yeah, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, but it’s not what you might think. It’s the secret weapon that you’re not going see anytime soon on the weights floor, and it’s this: stretching is not for sissies.
Yeah, after a good long workout, pumping weights, and sweating it out harder than anyone you’ve ever seen, that muscle ache that clings to you for the next few days like an old pair of favourite jeans hurts soooo good. But it’s easy, sometimes, to push yourself just a little too hard, just a little too hard, and - pop! Something’s gotta give, right, and it’s usually a part of our bodies.
Most likely the bit that we really kinda needed
“No pain no gain,” right? Wrong! Let’s turn it around. How about “All Gain, No Pain.”
Let’s try that on for size. What would it take for that to be possible? Well, for a lot of people, it’s a reality. Imagine, every time you work out, getting stronger and stronger, fitter and fitter, with little or no risk of injury.
Wouldn’t you want that? Wouldn’t you want to have the security and peace of mind to know you could work out and know you’re not going to walk out of the gym bandaged and bruised like one of the walking wounded? That means no limping around the house for a week. No time off the dance floor. No embarrassed, self-conscious smiles as you mutter “ouch” whilst trying to hide the fact you’re limping from your friends yet again.
Well, the secret ingredient here is yoga. Not only does it keep all your muscles, joints and ligaments soft and supple, it teaches you body awareness.
Yeah, I know, I can hear you: you know all about body awareness. You know where your five fingers are. You can touch your toes. Probably even count them.
But yoga does more than that. It makes you sit with your body. Not fighting it. Not pushing through it. Just… listening to it.
Oh man, I can hear your crying tears of boredom already. Let me die a kind death watching paint dry on the walls you say. Well, hang on.
Your body is a beautiful thing. There’s just about nothing in the world more beautiful than your body. It glides. It grooves. It’s there when you need it, at your beck and call, ready and able to do anything in your choosing.
It deserves some love and attention. A break from you worrying and fussing all the time about whether you “look right” in the mirror from the outside... Whether your abs are toned enough... Whether there’s no sign of grandma wobble under the arms. Whether there’s enough distance between your thighs so that you can proclaim, even in front of the harshest onlooker, “They’re not touching! They’re not touching! A bowling ball could pass through there, I swear!”
Slow down... Your body has it all in you, already, without you having to go anywhere for it. When you do yoga, your body teaches you its secrets about itself. You’re no longer fighting against it, trying to make it fit into something it’s not. Instead, you’re living with it, in partnership. You and your body both want the same things - good health, good experiences - bliss. And your body’s got some great ideas about how to find those things that it’s just waiting to tell you as soon as you’re ready to listen to them... You know what I mean, ladies.
So, the next time you’re pumping weights, and you’re all ready to take it to the next level, you might hear a subtle whisper…. “No. Don’t do that. Take a break” Are you going to listen to it? Get up, wipe your forehead, pick up your towel, walk away? Too right you are!
Because you’ll know it’s your body speaking. You’ll have learnt to hear its subtle voice, the way it speaks to you from the inside. And you’ll know that if, today, you just leave your workout where you are, leave that exercise, tomorrow you’ll come back fitter, stronger, and ready for the next level - without the injury.