Why Your Response to Tight Hamstrings (Or Any Body Part) Matters

Brad Korpalski
Why Your Response to Tight Hamstrings (Or Any Body Part) Matters

Even upon my earliest encounters with the yogic limb of asana, profound lessons already began to seed.

  1. I was incompetent.
  2. I judged the bejesus out of that incompetence.

To be more specific, there are things I do well, and things I don’t do well. The things I do well (upper body poses, balance) fill me up with a sense of pride—a sense of righteousness. And the things I don’t do well (everything else), I judge. I say things in my head that negate my innate wholeness.

“My hamstrings are soooo tight.”

“My hips are closed. I can’t do that.”

Yada, yada yada…

This thought form is part of our reflexive labeling— where each moment, each encounter gets judged--right or wrong, dirty or clean, expensive or cheap, and in this case—good or bad. Through the thought, “my hamstrings are tight”, I am also saying—my hamstrings are bad. Which also implies…part of me MUST change.

What do we do with this thought? The thought that something about me is bad or wrong and must change.

Doing Away With Reflexive Labelling and Judgment

It’s a conversation we all engage in, and it really, truly defeats WHO WE ARE. Insignificant as it may seem (judging our hips as tight, ass as big, etc…), this is just a microcosm of what we say (and experience) within the world too.

Our internal dialogue manifests in our social reality. The vitriol spewed onto the comments sections of Youtube, Facebook shares, the political back and forth that fill our airwaves, the appraisal and subsequent deconstruction of the Miley Cyrus’ of our world—all of it--is reflecting the personal discontent that awaits our collective healing.

The work of “making the world a better place” is an effort that requires ALL of our attention. What I say to myself is of equal importance to what I say to you, and what I live through my actions.

In fact, the healing STARTS with the personal dialogue. It starts with the conversation I have in my head during upavistha konasana (wide-seated forward bend).

The Wisdom of Yoga

Just like with our tight hamstrings, the appropriate response to what we perceive as “bad” or “wrong” in the world isn’t what we think it is.

The astute yoga teacher, when noticing my contorted facial expressions as I struggle forward in wide-seated forward bend, offers advice. Usually it’s to the tune of; “Listen to your body, Breathe into the tightness.”

There’s an incredible depth in these suggestions—which I often overlook. The breath is the river of compassion, the pulsating rhythm of unconditional love, it comes and goes without pause, and without judgment, and it is used in asana practice to bring this truth to our every cell.

“Listening” is a call for receptivity. As recipients of the gift of life, we are asked to receive openly, fully, so that we may be wholly capable “givers.” The way we deal with that which “needs to be changed” is not through force. We don’t become more flexible because we MAKE our body be more flexible. We cultivate flexibility by allowing it to emerge as a natural inevitability.

Acceptance, compassion, and love—it sounds like spiritual cliché, but really, there is no other way.

The words circling around our heads is our indicator. They tell us how ready we are to heed the call. How ready we are to step into…a More Beautiful Life.