I took up Bikram yoga for a while, and found the 90-minute class surprisingly meditative. There are certain phrases that all the instructors say, time and again.
One of these phrases that had a strong impact on me was, “pulling is the object of stretching”.
Before I go any further, you have to understand a couple of things…
1) I am certain that my interpretation of this is nothing along the lines of what the instructor meant to convey.
2) Even worse, I was not supposed to be thinking at all during class. I was supposed to be “in the moment”, focused on the posture at hand, using the instructors voice as a guide.
However, it is over 100 degrees in the room, and the class is 90 minutes long — and I am not a yogi. And hey, at least I was focused on the instructions, and not thinking about what I wanted to eat for dinner, or when I get to see my niece and nephew next…
So, “pulling is the object of stretching” got my mind going. I always thought the goal of stretching was tranquility, not effort. And pulling definitely involves effort. Lots and lots of effort as my muscles shake, and pain courses up and down my legs, in this case, inside and out, front and back. Tremendous effort and discipline as sweat pours off my body, into my eyes, and up my nose.
I continued to ponder the expression as I tried not to let my sweat drown me.
Tranquility was no where in sight. Requiring extreme effort is such a stark contrast to how I used to view stretching; the point of stretching was to relax!
But I realized: perhaps the people who are really flexible, who make it look like stretching is relaxing, have, in actuality, spent hours working at the pulling. And they still are pulling. They have just come to enjoy the act of pulling as much as they like the result of greater flexibility.
The same can be said of almost everything. The actions that certain people take that may look easy, are, in fact, not. Really, they are hobbies or interests that person has done enough times to reach the tipping point, whereby they actually enjoy the act as much as the result.
For me, that act is planning for travel. Hotel websites are my guilty pleasure; my porn. I love planning my next trip, working out the logistics, painting the boxes on the canvas that I will color in as the journey progresses.
And, because I love it so much, I do it with relish, and I do it well. So, my trips tend to be more enjoyable, because I can linger more inside the boxes, choosing exactly what color blue to use and how thick and straight a line. I have the time and luxury to indulge in the moment, because I have taken care of all the worrisome details in advance. I have “pulled” for hours, and now I can relax.