This morning my lower right torso, hip, and leg felt tight and “out-of-whack.”

My immediate response was to stretch.  Makes sense, right?

Wrong!  Stretching already tight muscles without warming up tends to exacerbate the problem.  The tension is there for reason.  Tightness and discomfort are your body’s way of calling for help.

“Warming up” the muscles through gentle movement is like hearing the full story before you offer advice to a troubled friend.  It’s a way listen to the muscles and get a sense of what is happening, before attempting to fix the problem.

So, like a good friend, I took time to listen to my troubled body.

Today that included several rounds of “cat-cow” and “child’s” pose as well a few gentle twists—all in harmony with deep, full breathing in and out through my nose. I matched my breath to my movement while listening to my lower right back, sensing what I needed.

After a few minutes on my knees, I stood up in mountain pose, stretched my arms to the sky and stretched gently to one side then the other.  Then, I bent forward and explored my lower back in forward fold, downhill skier pose, half forward fold and then came back to the forward fold position.

Along the way, I felt a gentle shift in my hip socket followed by a releasing of the tightness!  Re-alignment of my femur bone in the hip socket resolved the problem in a way that impulsive action could not.  Tight muscles weren’t the problem.  They were symptoms of the misalignment of my skeletal structure.

Symptoms invite us to pay attention, to listen to our lives more carefully.

Like the impulse to stretch without inquiry, I’m also prone to impulsive responses to my heart.  Irritability with my husband, impatience while waiting in line, or tears welling up behind my eyes—like physical aches and pains—indicate misalignment.  I often want to “fix” Dave, criticize the store for poor customer service, or ignore my tears.

Befriending my body—like befriending my loved ones, cashiers, and even my own heart—takes practice.

We learn by practice.

When faced with an impulse to “fix” your body, try doing for your body what you already know how to do so well for others: listen first.  With practice, I bet you’ll be surprised by what you hear!