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From bird in my back garden to bird of paradise

Posted on May 4, 2016

“Your perspective is always limited by how much you know. Expand your knowledge and you will transform your mind.” Bruce Lipton

And your body……….

If you think you don’t, or that you won’t ever have a flexible body, there is a strong chance that you never will.

I grew up remembering my gymnastics teacher telling me I’d never be strong or flexible enough and from that day on I always classed a good day from being able to touch my toes. Believe me, that didn’t happen very often.

I was very young when my gymnastics teacher seeded that belief that would become my truth. What she did unknowingly was plant a seed of disbelief in what I thought my body could ever be capable of. This weed continued to grow within my subconscious throughout my childhood and into my adult life. I remember stretching, trying to get into better habits by attempting to stretch every day, but it never lasted long. Deep down, I thought it was all pointless, that my effort would never amount to anything because I didn’t have the right type of body.

If only I had known, what I know now. That gym teacher literally cast a spell over me that day with her words. It was all lies.

Here’s why.

All of us have a flexible body, all of us have the potential to move and shape our body in the way that we desire. You’re now probably wondering how you make that change?

What we have to do first is unravel the belief that is keeping us stuck and then mindfully start working on ourselves. I use EFT to tap on myself regularly about the way I feel about my flexibility. This helps me to bring negative beliefs and emotions to the surface which I can then work through. I have gone from not being able to get my nose on my knees to standing  comfortably in forward fold with my nose in-between my knees after 45 minutes of tapping with no yoga or warm up.

“Since everything is a reflection of our minds…. everything can be changed by our minds.” Buddha

The key issue is the conflict between our conscious and subconscious mind. This occurs when our subconscious mind plays the belief in our mind which says “you’ll never be flexible, you’re not strong enough, this isn’t safe”. Even though there are times when we feel positive and optimistic about our ability, our hugely powerful subconscious is thinking “nah, never, there is no chance I’m letting you go there” and we experience conflict.

We then have a battle on our hands because our subconscious mind processes 40 million bits of data per second whereas our conscious mind which is our minute-by-minute brain only processes 40 bits in comparison.  Our subconscious runs the show and is responsible for 90-95% of our behaviour and physical processes all day, everyday.

Our muscles respond to our subconscious, they’re not being stubborn or difficult, they’re taking orders and they’re keeping us safe. If you want to get your muscles on your side, you have to listen to the internal dialogue coming from your subconscious and you have to discover the belief that is holding you back. Then you have to work on it.

Muscle memory is vital. If you want to become better at any physical activity, creating patterns of movement to embed new physiological blueprints is essential. Training your brain creates new connections to your nervous system and muscle fibres and as training continues the muscle movement becomes automatic. As the body becomes more comfortable with this movement it will start to respond in the way you want it to whether that’s flexibility, strength, speed or all of them. Eventually your subconscious will also begin to clock the similarity in movements and will learn from the correlated emotions whether you are feeling good or bad. How far you progress will depend on the level of positive emotional intensity.

I believe that smiling when practicing yoga will make you bendier. Put too much pressure on yourself and everything will seize up.

I can make heaven or hell of my yoga mat, it can be the most frustrating and painful place or the most enlightening, magical and empowering space. I have to literally kick my ego of my yoga mat sometimes, and tune in to how I am feeling and breathe. I use this time to reset and evolve the way I have thought wrongly about my body for twenty-six years.

So how has realising all of this benefited me and how can it benefit you?

I have been practicing my yoga regularly now for just over a year and what I learn time and time again, is that to grow we can’t just absent-mindlessly reach for our toes and hope for the best. We have to be in the moment, during every moment, breathe through the stretch and notice the sounds, tensions and space that we feel in every part of our body. It’s only when we really connect to ourselves that something magical begins to happen and physically, emotionally and spiritually we begin to evolve.

Yoga 1

Bird in my back garden pose

Here’s me in Bird of Paradise pose a month ago. It’s a yoga pose that requires strength, flexibility and stamina in the hamstrings, hips and shoulders. This was my first attempt at the pose following an hour-long yoga class.

I lovingly called my attempt “Bird in my  Back Garden”. What should be happening is my leg should be completely extended and my foot beside my ear, a variation of standing splits. Though I laughed at myself, I felt proud of my attempt, just securing a bind with my hands underneath my thigh felt like a brilliant achievement.

Three weeks later during my Friday lunch break I popped over to Bend Fit Mend for a 45 minute stretch class. We would be focusing on our hips only, which would mean we would practice and breathe through five or six positions to thoroughly warm up and open our hips.

Stretching correctly is everything

What I value is the knowledge of knowing how to stretch right and how and what we are activating and what it should feel like. This has fueled my progress in ways I didn’t think would ever be possible.

Find a yoga teacher who knows their stuff

In my experience, finding a yoga teacher who is obsessed with anatomy and how our body moves and flows is the best thing you could ever do.

During the session we focused on the complete internal functionality of the hip, how it moves, and noticing where it doesn’t normally move past. We then spent time warming the back and front of the area around the hips before moving into warming the deeper muscles.

The result from just a few stretches was a much fuller movement ability and a deeper understanding of how the legs rotated in the hip socket while stimulating fresh blood flow.

Yoga 2

Bird of Paradise after 45 minutes of focused stretching

At the end of the class I asked Amanda if we could try out Bird of Paradise. Although I hadn’t given the pose another go since the first time, I had been continuing to practice my yoga and at that point my hips felt warm enough to take a deep breath and go for it.

Forty-five minutes later and here I am. Leg extended and for a brief moment, long and entirely straight.

The benefit of practicing very few moves with a real expert is that you can just breathe into the area and create space. You also have time to mindfully make adjustments based on their 1-2-1 coaching. This gives you more time to experience the big differences from making a small change in the positioning and what this can mean for your body.

These are my eight tips for you and your fitness journey:

  1. Do you believe that your body is capable of what you want to achieve?
  2. What other beliefs do you have about how successful you will be at achieving your goal?
  3. Do you enjoy working towards your goal?
  4. When you work out or practice, what emotion(s) are you experiencing and what might that be doing for your body?
  5. Do you feel that the way you move is correct and making optimal use of your energy?
  6. How do you know if you’re engaging the right muscles?
  7. How do you usually feel after a session – happy, content, wanting more or glad it’s over?
  8. Where are you noticing progress in your body and where are you not.


If you have any questions or comments, post them below 🙂

Hannah x


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