Tinkering With the Tin Man

Nov 9, 2012 by

Have you ever used plasticine? It’s a modeling material used by sculptors and children to push and shape into three-dimensional forms. To use it, you have to move the material until it becomes warm and pliable. When it sits ignored, it become very hard and you wonder if it’ll ever be shaped by your will again. Does this sound a little like your body?

When I was 30 I noticed my body was getting stiff. I thought, “If I’m feeling rusty now, will I resemble the Wizard of Oz’s Tin Man when I’m 60?” How about you? Do you notice that fluidity is turning to ice as the number of candles on your birthday cake increase? Perhaps you spend your days in a stressed-out, sit-down job and don’t have the energy to lift up out of your chair at the end of your day. Maybe you just don’t know how to make the life-style change that would culture flexibility.

Fortunately, when I became aware of aging changes I began a yoga practice. Immediately I felt more supple. And I noticed flexibility equals feeling good.

What increases elasticity? A yoga asana (posture) practice is particularly suitable for increasing flexibility because yoga treats the body not as a taskmaster, but as a gentle coach. Whether you’re an athlete or a couch potato, slowly easing into the stretch sensation until you feel your ‘soft edge’ gives the muscles a chance to do what they really enjoy doing – releasing tension. Over time, you’ll be building length into the muscle structure and you’ll have begun to train your muscles to relax. Add the components of thinking ‘relax’ into sensations and breathing deeply. The stretch is enhanced and you also produce the mind-body link associated with a good yoga practice.

Have you thought about your connective tissue lately? Think ‘down-dog’ (a yoga posture that looks like your dog stretching and is known to every yogi) and hold. Holding poses gives the body a chance to expand and strengthen connective tissue. It’s been said that if all other types of cells were dissolved and only fascia (a type of connective tissue) remained, you would still see a clearly recognizable body! Through holding a stretch, tightness is naturally freed throughout the entire body with barely a moment’s notice from our consciousness.

Although connective tissue is found in every bone, muscle, and organ, it’s most concentrated at the joints. When you don’t use your full range of joint flexibility, the connective tissue will gradually contract. Years of under-use will add to the ‘Tin Man’s’ power over you.

Did you know there’s more to yoga than rust removal? Going from your Tin Man into limp noodle phase is a little like getting a new body. But there is more…There is the mental component of yoga which is, perhaps, the most rewarding part of the practice. When the spinal cord is stretched, the central nervous system is cleansed of the biochemistry of stress and fatigue. This leads to greater mental clarity, openness and potency of thought. Additionally, with the engagement of the parasympathetic nervous system through your conscious stretching, a corresponding relaxation response, ie., happiness, is produced!

How can your yoga practice be recharged? Take a three day break and notice how you feel! For me, this small break renews my experience with the ‘Tin Man’. From experience, I know that without a regular yoga practice I’d be stiffer, feel older and be less able to do the things I want to do.

How can you supercharge your life? Begin a yoga practice, no matter the number of candles on your cake. Now is the perfect time to start changing into flexible you.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Fell out of bed feelnig down. This has brightened my day!

  2. Christene

    Really liked what you had to say in your post, Tinkering With the Tin Man | Easy Yoga Maui, thanks for the good read!
    — Christene

    http://www.terrazoa.com

  3. Hi, i have reading out and i will definitely bookmarrk your site, just wanted to say i liked this article.