The chant of the week VITARKA BADHANE PRATIPAKSHA BHAVANAM (see previous post or click here) means that in any given situation which causes your mind to ripple with dwelling, hashing and rehashing thoughts, you are encouraged to create an opposing thought which will neutralize the polluting effect of the previous one.
In other words you have the ability to turn any situation around by simply shifting your thoughts.
How is this relevant to our focus this week, hamstrings and quadriceps? Two of the most powerful muscles in the human body aka the thigh muscles.
These two muscles are opposing muscles and they must work in unison, if we want to avoid harming ourselves.
First rule of thumb is to think of your hamstrings as lengthening rather than stretching. Stretching is a term better reserved for inanimate objects. As the most arrogant specie on this earth, we often approach our hamstrings as if they had no intelligence of their own, but this approach will not get you far, maybe even cause an injury or two.
Nature being perfect and farsighted too, created a built-in feature of the nervous system that holds muscles at a preset length and causes them to contract when they’re pulled beyond their capacity. What is called the stretch reflex.
Focusing back on the brotherhood of hams and quads with a metaphor to better illustrate my point.
Stretching the hamstrings is a bit like leading a reluctant mule somewhere it doesn’t want to go. If you pull the mule, it will pull back. But if you befriend the mule, take the gentle approach, you will surely coax it or persuade it to tag along without any tug of war involved.
When you stretch the hamstrings by yanking on them, by forcing them into shape like you would a new pair of shoes, they will yank back at you, harder and stronger, sometimes with a vengeance. But if you seduce them into loosening up, if you meet the resistance by offering the support of the opposing muscle (quad), the resistance will melt away.
The mind is very much like that. If you keep pulling it in a negative direction, it will pull back with more negative thoughts but if you train yourself to meet the negativity with opposing thoughts, then with time, your mind becomes gentler, softer, kinder, more flexible, more relaxed…less of a mule.