By Aanandi Ross
In my freshman year, my college roommate would do a sort of Kurmasana (Tortoise Pose). She sat on the floor and spread her legs out very wide, then brought her chest and forehead to the floor in front of her. “Wow! Impressive. I want to do that,” I thought. That desire contributed to the ongoing development of my deceptive flexibility.
I practiced her version of Kurmasana over and over. I became able to spread my legs out very far and wide while bringing my chest and forehead to the floor. This pose felt impressive. It filled me with satisfaction, and I did this favorite pose for years. Then, seemingly unrelated, I developed lower back pain, and my neck never recovered from a whiplash accident, causing years of pain and problems.
When I finally took the Deceptive Flexibility training, it explained the connection to me and answered a lot of other questions. Deceptive flexibility is a complex condition in both body and mind. It is a so deeply rooted condition that it can even be difficult to notice. I learned that my extreme angle of Kurmasana was actually overstretching my hip ligaments. Stretching them into unnatural extremes caused my spinal muscles to become very tight. I remember Vidyadevi saying, “Your body thinks your leg is going to fall right off, so your spinal muscles tighten to prevent that from happening, to protect you and hold you all together.”
I thought about what Vidyadevi said. I thought about all my work to impress people, and all the pain it was causing me. Fortunately, my leg did not fall off. But my spinal muscles became very tight and inflexible. I could not distinguish the bone of my sacrum from those hard muscles. No wonder I had so much low back pain and correlating neck pain. I looked flexible, but my appearance was deceptive.
The good news is that deceptive flexibility can be undone. It takes some time, customized poses and consistent yoga practice, but by releasing the spine, your whole skeleton transforms. Once I found Svaroopa® yoga, I stopped having to frequent the many chiropractors, physical therapists and osteopaths to fix my pain (that always returned). I haven’t needed their services for the past eight years. If I do tighten up, I know how to release my spine. What a relief! And the money I saved on all those visits could then pay for more Svaroopa® yoga trainings!
But I must add that there is more to deceptive flexibility than this physical aspect. There’s a deeper cause — in the mind. In my mind, I was concerned about what others thought of me. I wanted to be impressive and to wow people. I had a desire for people to like me. And I had the illusion that getting people to like me would make me okay, make me enough, make me great. This is a painful path, in both body and mind.
The secrets revealed to me in Deceptive Flexibility training have been life changing, and worth every modified Kurmasana, every tailbone pose and every sacrum pose. I am now genuinely more flexible, my muscles are softer and my mind more content. The poses taught in Deceptive Flexibility feel delicious. They support my body in ways that begin unraveling deep tension. My favorite pose now is Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana (Pigeon Forward Bend) with customized propping. The blankets allow the pose to reach through my hip and into my spine, releasing my sacrum muscles and even my neck.
Life is sweeter with less deception. I am forever grateful for this transformative understanding. Thank you, Swamiji.