Strength or Flexibility?
The yogi in me has struggled for several months because I have had to be ultra careful. Yoga is not just a way for me to get my exercise, but it is a mental health tool that I use to keep myself focused and present. I have not been doing my usual yoga practice with fear of a "I told you so" from everyone helping me with this recovery, but I have slowly leaned into yoga again twice weekly. I was so excited to share my most recent virtual yoga class with my favorite yoga teacher, Olivia, and Rossara, one of my fellow hippies and new friend. from Singapore.
Olivia always preaches strength over flexibility. And whenever she preaches those words, I always mentally check that box. There is no benefit in being super flexible if you don’t have the strength to back it up. It does not help if you can hold a plank for 90 seconds if your shoulders and tummy are sagging. You gotta use your strength to maintain proper form. There is no value in flopping into poses and having a middle name of Pretzel without strength. Even with my most recent hip surgery, I feel fairly strong with all things being equal. I’m definitely still babying my hip - no one legged Chataranga, because I know I’m not strong enough for that right now. But I am focused on regaining strength before flexibility.
But then this question popped up into my thoughts. What is more important with recovery - strength or flexibility? That, my friends, is not an easy answer. When I refer to strength in this question - I’m talking mental fortitude. I guess I would say they are probably equally important. There is such a horrid mental game in this recovery. Ten steps forward, 6 steps back. Even though the six steps back is a negative, the mental fortitude will allow you to see that you had a net increase of four steps. In anyone’s book, that is forward progress.
You can go with the flow or fight it. Fighting it makes you weaker. And that is where the flexibility part of this journey will help. It will allow you to see that sometimes the road is not always straight. I get it. You have an end point in your mind and exactly how you are going to get there and when it does not happen the way you wrote your story, frustration increases. Flexibility will help you rewrite the story to one that celebrates your strength through the wrong turns. Believe me, I know. My hip journey has been a series of traffic lights, traffic jams, u-turns and even a few tickets. But I’m also confident that my strength coupled with my flexibility will allow me to put the pedal to the metal and get going! Keep the faith!