I can't remember anything about the class except being the least flexible one there (by a long margin) and feeling embarrassed because I could hardly do any of the stretching exercises.
I never went back to that dance class!
For years after that I was the least flexible person in pretty much everything. Sporting teams, gymnastics, yoga classes, athletics. Any kind of exercise or movement program, I was the least flexible person there.
For years I tried to diligently to increase my flexibility. I did stretching practice every day. I tried different forms of yoga.
But I just always seemed to be trying to force tight muscles into a stretch. It never felt natural. It was like nothing in my body wanted to budge
It wasn't until I found the Alexander Technique that I started to realise that I actually HOLD my muscles tight.
They won't let go because I'm trying to stretch them whilst subconsciously holding them tight at the same time!
So now when I stretch I go into a pose and then I mentally go through my body systemically and invite all my muscles to lengthen.
Through tension, and through personal patterns and habits of posture, we tend to shorten, and hold tight, some of our muscles.
And if we don't invite those muscles to lengthen again, they often stay short.
And this can cause even more tension, and pull our posture out of alignment even more.
I'm not going to be dancing Swan Lake anytime soon, but my personal flexibility has greatly increased compared to how it used to be.
And more importantly, I now enjoy yoga, and find it relaxing and restorative!
In at least SOME key ways, I am actually more flexible now than I was when I was 6…