As I sit in middle splits, rubbing my sore inner thighs, warming up for a short performance at SF's Exploratorium, I grapple with the idea that perhaps today my legs just will not go any further. I have never loved to stretch my middle splits and I have plenty of resistance when it comes to pushing past 180° into the over-split zone. But recently, I have made some exciting progress and experienced less resistance and pain in 'over-middle-splits'. So I put my right leg up on the seat of an office chair and start to dig deeper into my legs, searching for that feeling of freedom, accomplishment and wonder. With a little patience and extra time spent breathing deeply and relaxing, my legs do as I tell them and split open as easily as a Barbie with rhythmic training.
I am proud of my flexibility. I put the time, energy and intelligence into my practice. I regularly see progress. It's great! But every time I make significant progress, I cling tightly to that precious image in my head of me in some new, exciting position. Like all progress, it ebbs and flows when it comes to flexibility. Some days you're feeling gumby and brand new. Other days it's the complete opposite. I am constantly reminding myself to be patient when I'm confronted with the illusion of lost progress. With the right amount of rest and the diligence of a proper warm-up, our bodies are always capable of doing more than we thought they could.
It takes faith to keep coming back to the same move/pose over and over again until it's mastered. Don't let doubt lead your practice down a road you don't want to be on, that anxious and frustrating workout that seems to yield nothing good enough to post on your Insta. If you feel stuck in your practice, try revisiting the basics and approach them with an open mind. Be open to changing your attitude toward the things that are challenging to you. With a little tenderness and focus, these are the areas that will yield the highest returns.