Of all the things you need to do, please do the side bend.
I hear you already thinking, “what on earth is he talking about”
Stay with me, I’ll explain.
I’ve been practicing yoga only for 4-5 years now, and have come across many principles, philosophies, and ideas around body / breath & mind.
However, one of the principles concepts which id like to share with you today is the use of the physical body.
If you took an alien from out of space and put him / her / it into a yoga class, what do you think would be the observation?
I think he / she / it would witness a bunch of people all doing something with their bodies i.e. bending / flexing / moving etc.
Even this basic observation is super fascinating for me. It begs the obvious question…why?
What is it about bending / flexing / moving our bodies which seems to be so important to people?
What are they getting from it?
Now there are many ways to answer the above question. We could dissect the benefits or reasons into looking at it through the lenses of physical / mental / spiritual etc…
However, for the purpose of this article I'm drawn to the idea of the mental side of things.
Don’t worry, we are getting closer to you doing a side bend soon I promise.
Right, so what are the links between bending your body & your mind?
Moreover, why should I do a side bend?
Amazing questions, and one I'm starting to form an opinion on…so here goes.
“My observation is that our bodies can be used as the perfect stage to which we can watch our own internal theatrical production play out.” (A.Lakhani)
There is a specific reason I chose the paradox of a theatrical production.
This is because its something that needs a production director and therefore can be changed i.e. the actors / script / story…you name it and it can be changed!
What this means is, our bodies are a manifestation of the goings on of the mind.
Look at the below two examples and see how closely they are linked by reading the “common themes”
Wow, I defiantly didn’t intent on drawing a table before I started writing this that’s for sure!
Anyways, if you are still with me, you would have hopefully got a sense of similarity between performing a simple yoga pose & “real life”.
Herein lies potentially part of the answer to the question asked earlier:
“What are the links between bending your body & your mind?”
As we can see, the series of though process’s we go through in daily life when faced with a trigger event (work stress) is in fact the same series of events we go through when performing a simple yoga pose (side bend).
Therefore, one can argue, by learning to perform the side bend or other “yoga” poses, we may be better able to explore the series of thought patterns we go through in order to help when it comes to “real life” situations.
We can then begin to use our bodies by various form of manipulation (i.e. yoga / gym / walking etc…some form of motion / movement) to explore our thought patterns.
By exploring our thought patterns, we open the ability t become AWARE of them and therefore the gift to be able to CHANGE them where we see fit.
Like I mentioned earlier, we get to decide the script of our very own theatrical production via implementing the lessons of a simple side bend.
The value of being able to put a structure around how we react to changes in situations and our response to them is absolutely priceless.
Practicing the side bend teaches us what we have the ability to endure a primary feeling of physical imbalance / muscle tension only to end up feeling calm and stable.
Just to know we have the ability to move towards a state of balance again is comforting in itself no?
It makes me think therefore, out internal nature is always wanting to return to balance.
It makes me think that no matter what goes on in my life, I have the belief that my body / mind / soul all conspires for me 24/7 to move towards a sense of alignment and balance just like we saw in the table above.
There is a lot of science-based research to suggest we can train our brains by forcing ourselves to think differently. They suggest that by doing this brain training, we can literally change the size & structure of our brains.
So, it can be said that performing a side bend is a form of brain training for dealing with the real world and its various triggers it has to offer us.
Notice, the words I used here i.e. “offer us”.
The reason why I choose to emphasis this point, is because all too often I myself have dreamt / wished for trigger events to be eradicated from my life. For example, I often wondered how amazing life would be if there was no more work stress, or if I was only surrounded by people who understood me.
As we all know, this represents a short-lived fleeting moment of fantasy which can never be reality.
This means therefore, life will continue to “offer” us trigger moments which give us a chance to practice how to overcome them.
A chance to use the skills we could gain from performing a simple side bend when it comes to dealing with other triggers such as loss, fear or guilt for something in our lives.
The sooner i learnt to accept that the quality of my lives is dependent on my ability to lead through triggering events, the sooner my life began to make sense.
I wonder if this makes sense for you?
So, will you perform a side bend?
I’ve put a photo here for you to look to get an idea of what I mean by “side bend”.
If you choose to try this experiment out for yourself, ive left a short guide as to what to do and how to work your way through the series of thoughts that may appear.
Side bend away friends and please let me know if you agree / disagree to the event sequence I laid out above and if you agree they can relate to the “real world”.
Peace be the Journey
STANDING SIDE BEND
1) Stand upright with your feet close together
2) Keep your chip up, head in line with body and shoulders down
3) Take a few breaths to prepare, each time on the exhale consciously relaxing your face / upper and lower body
4) Rains your hands up over your head (as above left side photo) (Feel the stretch from your feet, through to your legs / back / shoulders / head / arms / forearms / hands…and eventually to your fingertips / Connect all these “dots”)
5) Keep breathing gently here at your own pace (Don’t hold your breath in anywhere….it will build up tension in the mind / body)
6) Gently begin to BEND over to one side slowly until you reach your limit (You be the judge of this)
7) Pause here for a minute and take a few breaths
8) TIME TO GET TO WORK!
a. Notice the following sequence of reactions & your responses:
1st reaction – tension in the body muscles / short breath / wobbling
2nd reaction - more of the same but in a different way (more conscious this time)
3rd reaction – a shift towards starting to act / think differently to have a different more balanced experience
4th reaction – transfer body weight into feet to help balance, use breath to anchor back to yourself, sense of connection between upper and lower body
5th reaction – beginning to "let go" of the 1st / 2nd & 3rd reactions and embrace a feeling / sense of balance or stability