We can make some useful comparisons between increasing physical flexibility in your body and increasing existential flexibility in your life, since as yogis and Buddhists are always telling us the mind and body are one. Incidentally, one of the best parts about practicing asanas is that you can apply almost everything you’re doing on the mat to the wider sphere of your life.
The ideas that seem most salient for our conversation in the realm of physical flexibility are that we are all more flexible than we think but there are definite limits, and if we go beyond those limits we will surely cause harm to ourselves. The only way to increase flexibility is to constantly live on that edge, reaching a little bit beyond ourselves over the days and weeks until the miracle happens and we find ourselves bending over backwards in a pose that was once unthinkable. It doesn’t all happen at once.
Every person starts with a different inherent flexibility and is at a different stage in the journey so the outward manifestation of a pose can be misleading. We see two people practicing asanas next to one another. One is not even trying although she is in a ridiculously difficult pose, while the other is giving everything he has but can still barely touch his toes.
If we cross these ideas over to the wider sphere of life it becomes obvious that flexibility is not some carefree attitude where you let anything and everything go without discriminating, but is a well thought out, highly disciplined process where you make the conscious choice to reach beyond what you’re comfortable with but are still highly aware of your limits. You know that crossing these limits will lead to a bad outcome. You also become more forgiving of the seeming inflexibility of others because you realize that appearances are deceiving and what is quite difficult for one person is natural and easy for another. But as a general rule increasing your flexibility is a good thing. It leads to increased health and vitality in your body, and it leads to a more open and rounded perspective in your life.