Flexibility or Strength
Try not to think of flexibility and strength as two quite separate concepts, or as an "either/or" option. The body is extremely clever so pay attention to what it is telling you .Watch a young child standing, sitting and moving about freely and you will quickly recognize how far most adults have travelled from paying attention to their own bodies' guidance. Often, we are not even aware that we are setting an insidious pattern until it has become completely ingrained and we are suffering the effects of poor posture, tension and stress.
Flexibility comes from strength and the reason for this is simple. A joint sits between opposing muscles like a see-saw with the tight muscle holding the see-saw down. To create flexibility in a joint you must use the strength of the opposing muscle to stretch its partner
The first reason why you have these problems is because the body has adapted itself to move, sit and hold itself in the way you have chosen .So now it is the perfect manifestation of who and how you are. This is most obviously illustrated by the way we compensate for a physical injury, but lt is actually also happening in ordinary, everyday life. The second reason is that the body tends to open up only when it truly feels safe to do so.
Releasing the body
There are three common methods of making the body feel safe and of releasing the tightness that hides a weakness. First, you can just collapse and relax, letting everything go, only to fmd precisely the same tensions and tightness return once you stop relaxing and re-adopt your habitual patterns and methods of movement. Second, you can have the tensions massaged, or manipulated, into letting go, but, once again, your habitual methods and patterns of movement will encourage the original tension back into your body. You could, however, create balance between your muscles, and since balance is most definitely safe, the body.your body is more likely to open up and let go, aliering your habitual patterns and methods of moving for the better. Only when a weakness is strengthened to balance a tense strength wrll the tension in the body be resolved.
As you practise, be aware of the Imbalances in your body; learn to recognrze them in everyday life so your work on the mat carries on all day, every day, changing your body from slouch to sleek. Until you balance the "see-saw" in everyday movement the imbalance will remain. Try to be patient. Be honest about your weakness, then take time to strengthen it until your body makes it clear to you that the weakness is ready to let go.
Gravity - use the floor
What is the one thing that helps you stay on this planet.It is the same thing that shrinks us during the day and without which we would float away. Gravity beats us down and also provides us with all that we need to find a magical lift. Remember Isaac Newton for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. To find this lift up, against gravity's pull, all you need is a body and a floor.No matter what part of your body is touching the floor or chair, you can find the lift up simply by pushing down a little. After all, we are designed with a foot that has natural balance owing to its arch and a spine that has curves to give us more spring. Gymnasts, yogis, dancers and athletes alike all perform feats that seem to defy gravity because they have found this lift. More importantly than the ability to perform great feats, this lift shows us that you do not have. to suffer under the seeming oppression of the welght of gravity. After all, if you measure yourself in the morning and again that evening there will be evidence that you have shrunk a little in between. This difference between the freedom and length of our spine before and after our day is a major reason why we get tired. The stress of gravity seems against us.
Push down to lift up
But how can levitation be achieved when gravity is so essential to all our lives. Well push down a little. Try and find where gravity is affecting your body, where the weak points are.Try slouching when you sit and then pushing your bottom down on the seat. Stay there pushing and slouching until you feel the need to let go and you will find that there is a natural lift that accompanies the letting go. You will now feel upright and in line with gravity, not fighting against it. Try the same technique but standing this time and if the feeling remains elusive stay with the pushing and slowly let go with as much awareness as you can muster.
Feel this lift and as it becomes familiar let your actions and movements become filled and dictated by it; never slouching or stooping, always feeling a light long spine being filled with a lift. If you take away the stress and energy used in struggling every day against gravity, you can see how much easier living would be.
So we can forget about the long fight with gravity, and instead give in and work with this beneficial force, to use it to our advantage. Regardless of whether you use this natural lift to leap like a gazelle, stand on one hand or levitate, it will mean that as you age - the one thing you cannot avoid - you will not stoop, bow or give in to the pull of gravity. You will grow old gracefully.