Those who practice with me regularly may have noticed that only 1 time in any practice I teach, do I use the word stretch. Stretching implies a different type of action to different people. The question becomes what is it that we’re trying to achieve with the asana (pose) we’re doing?
If I ask you to stretch your back/spine, are you extending, lengthening, contracting, folding, rotating, moving laterally, bending back or maybe a combination of movements? Depending on your body and how you feel, none of them would be wrong. Often stretching suggests an active movement; yang, energized… but if you consider a yin practice to be stretching; a practice where you become still and release & relax the body into a passive shape then stretch could be a passive action. Based on this alone, is the word stretch an effective instruction to hear, as a student, in a class?
Then there is the question of what does stretch even really mean anatomically in the body and depending on how the cue is used is it something that can be done?
Almost 4 years ago, J. Brown Yoga shared the blog post below called Yoga is Not Stretching. It resonated with me as a new yoga teacher. It’s a thought provoking quick read. If you take the time to read through, let me know what you think. I love to share teachings that make you think about your practice. Sometimes the most important practice happens off the mat and expands your knowledge for the next time you’re on the mat.